Bastille – Doom Days

A treat that’s more than worth the wait.
Label: Virgin
Released: 14th June 2019
Rating: ★★★★

It might feel like Bastille’s third album has been ‘on the cards’ for more than a while. Debuting the first track from it, opener ‘Quarter Past Midnight’, a year ago, the suggestion was the full release would be with us before Santa started running telly ads.

In truth, though, Dan Smith and his band of merry men have been anything but tardy. In the space in-between now and then there’s been festivals, tours and fully-realised mixtapes, all expanding the universe around a record which pulls back the curtain on what we’ve long seen as Bastille’s final, complete form.

This isn’t simply ‘the band with the Pompeii’ song. In his own quiet, fuss-free way, Smith has proven himself as one of the more interesting, creative forces of the last five years. From his own label to off the reservation collaborations, there’s always been the hint that, should he bring that full high definition vision to the day job, Bastille had new gears to reach. On ‘Doom Days’, they’re hitting top speed.

Sure, this isn’t a band who are about living on the ragged edge, but in their own way they’ve created an album steeped in urban nihilism. A nighttime record bathed in neon glow and the blurry buzz of reduced inhibition, it finds its own place amongst the polarised hellscapes, refusing to let the modern world drag it down.

Threaded with characters and recurring themes, ‘Doom Days’ is far closer to the band’s ‘Other People’s Heartache’ series of winding, instinctive, genre-fluid mixtapes than either of their previous full-lengths. A tale of hazy recollection, from the acceptance of ‘Bad Decisions’ to the echoing musings of ‘Divide’, there’s an effective mixture of emotion and energy. ‘Million Pieces’, ‘Nocturnal Creatures’ and closer ‘Joy’ all drip with euphoria, while ‘Another Place’ already feels like a future hit. It’s the lyrical play of title-track ‘Doom Days’ that really hits home, though – showing the same talent of subtle but effective observation that first showed through on 2016’s ‘Wild World’, it’s the context to a wider story that draws everything around it into focus. A treat that’s more than worth the wait.

Stephen Ackroyd

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