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Bastille - Doom Days - Ltd. deluxe LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €29.95

At first pass, Doom Days – the third studio album by the British pop act Bastille – seems like just the right title for an album released in the year 2019. One need only take a look at any news headline at any given time to sense that Bastille might be tapping into the dread and gloom which permeates today's global politics. Admittedly, Bastille's past attempts at political reflection have come up quite short – especially on songs like Wild World's (2016) "The Currents": "I can't believe the scary points you make," frontman Dan Smith says to an anonymous demagogue. No one would ever confuse Bastille for a protest act, but that's not to say that – certain lyrical references aside – that Bastille should aspire to political music.

What makes Bad Blood, Bastille's 2013 smash debut, so compelling is its palpable sense of urgency, its insistence that everything hinges on a single crucial moment. That does smack of the "tonight is the night, and we only have tonight" brand of lyricism that John Mulaney famously roasted as "19-year-old horseshit". But Bastille turned the dial up on "tonight's the night", centering its lyrics and musical pacing on narratives not about a single night being important, but about the very stakes of the world's continued existence coming to a head at a key moment. Bad Blood even appeals to ancient myths, such as the fate of Daedalus' wax wings on "Icarus". That is a risky lyrical gambit, but with Bastille's knack for great singalong hooks and energetic electronic pop, the heightened reality of Smith's lyrics doesn't come across as exaggeration.

Since Bad Blood, Bastille's music hasn't exactly lost its urgency, but the zeal of that debut LP has since diminished. Excepting the Other People's Heartache mixtapes, where Bastille is at its most inventive, the main single and album releases of the band's have felt like competent but rote exercises in replicating what Bad Blood set out to do. Wild World, as I argued for this publication, finds Bastille playing it safe for its now considerable mainstream audience, smoothing out the edges of Bad Blood until all that's left is an emotive but mostly safe brand of pop. Bastille's subsequent major public success, in the form of the Marshmello collaborative single "Happier", further indicates the band's mainstream aspirations: its unremarkable, repetitive chorus hook and clichéd EDM synth riff are radio pop's equivalent of playing to the center.

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