Bastille returns with a 5 track EP, three of which being original songs and the other two live session recordings. Last year Bastille released their third studio album Doom Days, the album didn’t perform as well commercially as the group’s other projects but critic reviews were very positive with the album currently sitting at a 73 on Metacritic.
The first track “Goosebumps” is a collaboration with Kenny Beats. Bastille front man, Dan Smith is often recognisable for his unique and powerful vocals which is what makes this track so disappointing. Although the track is undeniably catchy, it suffers from a problem that is reoccurring through this EP, Smith’s vocals are very autotuned and overproduced in places.
“survivin’’” is the second track on this EP. Even more so than “Goosebumps” this track again suffers from autotuned vocals however my main grievance with this track is the repetitive lyrics. “survivin’” is easily my least favourite track on this EP and the biggest kicker here is the last few seconds where we get to hear some of Smith’s more raw and unproduced vocals to close the track which ultimately just makes me wonder how different and how much more enjoyable this EP could have been without the frustrating amount of vocal effects and overproduction.
“WHAT YOU GONNA DO???” is a collaboration with guitarist and founding member of Blur, Graham Coxon. This is the final original track on the EP and is a high energy rock song that begins with a blasting electric guitar. The lyrics to the song talk about modern technology partially through the character of Sally, lyrics such as “Sally’s never outside, Got a screen to hide behind, says she’s happy on the inside, and got a lot of friends online” really speak to our modern culture and are very relevant with the current world situation. Smith also seems to take a jibe at the culture the internet has created especially around data protection, with lyrics such as “Make me tap and scroll, you got control, got my attention”. “WHAT YOU GONNA DO???” is easily my favourite song on this EP, the raw and passionate vocals from Smith, the mighty instrumentals with thanks to Coxon and the fantastic writing and storytelling in the span of just over 2 minutes, makes this easily a winner in my eyes.
One of the two final songs on the EP is a studio session of the song “survivin’”, titled “survivin’ – One Eyed Jack’s Session”, this version is much more lowkey than the regular version with raw and emotive vocals by Smith which was what the regular overproduced one seemed to be crying out for. In place of lots of the autotune, this version features backing vocals. Overall this version of the song is much more authentic and listenable in my opinion.
The EP closes out with another “One Eyed Jack’s Session” this time for the track “Goosebumps”. Bastille has always performed strongly when it comes to live recordings and studio sessions, one that springs to mind is the song “Bad Blood (Live Piano version) despite being a session those same edited and autotuned sounding vocals manage to slip in but for the most part this version is much better with a piano instrumental supporting Smith’s studio vocals.
Overall this EP feels slightly underwhelming compared to much of the groups other works, but tracks like “WHAT YOU GONNA DO???” aswell as the two “One Eyed Jack’s sessions” help to save this EP.
Words by Alex Herron.