Dan Smith is a storyteller. A self-confessed film obsessive, his love of theatrics has been well and truly been pinned to his sleeve since day one. What he probably won’t shout quite as loud, however, is that he’s also a magnificent musician.
From the first notes of ‘Bad Blood’ these talents are wonderfully showcased. Throughout its twelve tracks, Smith has created a patchwork of vaguely sinister tales, referencing all manner of subject matter. Yet, whether his story is of two corpses twisted together as boiling ash engulfs them – album opener ‘Pompeii’ – or, ‘Laura Palmer’, the mysterious fictional murder victim, taken from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, the darkness remains enticing.
Working with the pathos and intelligence of his words comes the juxtaposition of his sonic efforts. Coupling his somewhat dark words with the uplifting chants and synths of ‘Overjoyed’ and ‘Flaws’, his music is a thrilling example of what great pop music can achieve.
The beautiful part about ‘Bad Blood’ is that it is both entirely predictable yet completely disarming. Thanks to a previous slew of EPs, singles and mixtapes, listening to this debut fills you with that instant sense of comfort and recognition, standing as an album you can have faith in. The remarkable part, though, is within the subtle intricacies lying layered within Smith’s songs. The exploration of any and all sounds; the delicate use of strings to heighten emotion, the touching piano-based ‘Oblivion’. There are moments, instruments, timings, buried within his experimentation that take you entirely by surprise.
Here is an artist who may be young, but has already got a firm handle on his craft. Having used his knowledge to create what feels like so much more than a debut, it’s exactly why Bastille are brilliant.
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