From 2013’s massive breakout single ‘Pompeii’ to 2019’s apocalyptic rave record ‘Doom Days’, Bastille have always found optimism in end times. 2016’s ‘Wild World’ was a barbed attack on political corruption and fake news while a string of mixtapes, collaborative singles and their string-led ReOrchestrated live shows saw the four-piece champion community. All those hopeful threads come together on ‘Give Me The Future’, a sleek pop record that explores millennial anxiety in a world of rapidly evolving tech.
The record tackles everything from loss (‘No Bad Days’) and online dating (‘Stay Awake’) to living life on your own terms (‘Thelma + Louise’) and the self-empowerment that comes with losing yourself in a virtual world (‘Distorted Light Beam’). Rather than a critique of the social media generation, though, the London band’s fourth album is more about finding joy, whatever your surroundings. To quote euphoric closing track ‘Future Holds’: “Who knows what the future holds? Doesn’t matter if I got you.”
That’s not to say Bastille have lost their bite. The haunting ‘Plug In…’ sees frontman Dan Smith launch a vicarious attack on culture’s desire for profit over positive change: “Ice caps’ll fall, Cali’ll burn / Wilful denial until it’s my turn / Bunch of old white men who don’t give a fuck / Are we having fun yet?” he half-raps on one of the most powerful songs Bastille have ever released. Elsewhere, the spoken word ‘Promises’ sees actor Riz Ahmed recite a poem that finds comfort in other people while the world burns outside.
Yet for the most part, Bastille offer giddy escapism on ‘Give Me The Future’. There’s glitching tropical pop on ‘Shut Off The Lights and the funk-driven ‘Give Me The Future’ takes influence from dance masters Daft Punk. The fiery ‘Stay Awake’, meanwhile, pulls inspiration from the emo rock of Waterparks or early Panic! At The Disco with its Siri-like sample (“Stop the world, I want to get off”) and lyrics such as: “Give me passion, give me violence, give me confidence / Give me something new to feel.”
Throughout ‘Give Me The Future’, Bastille pull heavily from the worlds of literature, film and music, but it never feels overblown. Likewise, rather than getting distracted by philosophical questions about technology, the band keep a focus on the humanity at the heart of the conversation. The result is the most expansive, yet cohesive record Bastille have put their name to. In fact, they may have created a perfect soundtrack to life after lockdown.
Release date: January 4
Record label: Virgin Records