Behind the Record: "Give Me the Future" by Bastille - Slay Sonics

Behind the Record: “Give Me the Future” by Bastille

Since its release on February 4th, 2022, fans have been absolutely loving Bastille’s new album Give Me the Future. Described by lead vocalist Dan Smith as a “thoughtful, fully realized new concept album,” Give Me the Future gives Bastille their third UK number 1 album. Full of 80’s inspired synth beats, laser sharp gospel inspired production, and a fantastic saxophone solo on the title track, this album is not one to be missed!

Where Bastille Began

Bastille was originally a solo project from frontman Dan Smith where he began writing and producing songs at the age of 15. After performing in 2007’s Leeds Bright Young Things festival Smith connected with future bandmates Chris ‘Woody’ Wood, William Farquarson, and Kyle Simmons, and the rest was history. 

The band’s first single “Flaws/Icarus” was released on 7” vinyl with only 300 copies pressed. Radio presenter Alex Baker happened to purchase one of those copies and liked the music so much that he supported the band through the release of the first official EP, Laura Palmer. The band continued to make music and come up through the English music scene playing festivals such as Glastonbury, Redfest, and Leeds Festival. 

Smith signed with Virgin Records in 2012 and the band began working on their first major label release. While working on this release, the band embarked on their first UK solo tour in 2012. Their second single, “Bad Blood”, charted at 90 while non-album single “Flaws” debuted at number 21 in the UK. 

Following the success of previous singles and live shows, Bastille released the single “Pompeii” in February 2013. Pompeii was a major success, getting the band the name recognition and success they have today. Debut album Bad Blood peaked at 2 in the United Kingdom and 5 in the United States. Smith described their success as “insane”, sharing that “the first album that was at number one that had a bigger share of iTunes album sales than it did of physical.” From here, Bastille found mainstream success across the globe. 

Future Bastille albums including Wild World and Doom Days have continued to be adored by fans throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and internationally. Bastille won the Brit Award for Best New Artist in 2014, and have been nominated for 5 Brits since their win. Collaborations with artists such as Haim, Marshmello, and Lizzo followed. 

Give Me The Future 

Much of Bastille’s music touches on the topic of dystopia vs modernity, fear of the future, humanity vs. technology, and Give Me The Future sees the band’s most in depth analysis of the topic. Beginning with the single “Distorted Light Beam”, Smith sings “Distort the light beam until I like me”, setting up the album’s futuristic mindset. Second single “Thelma and Louise” carries on the theme. Smith criticizes modern life, hoping to find the ultimate escape in Mexico with his love like classic movie characters Thelma and Louise. 

Track “Club 57” has Smith singing “Is it love? Or are we just craving attention? Is it love? Or do we just want satisfaction?”, succinctly summing up one of the main theses of the album. In this modern day, do we find authentic love or do we crave the instant gratification that social media has hardwired our brain to crave? It is obvious that Smith has thought about this juxtaposition between love and artificial satisfaction for a long time, but he hasn’t figured out quite where the difference lies. “Club 57” has us asking these deep questions yet also enjoying Smith’s fantastic vocals and dance infused bass lines. 

“We ain’t nothing but the things we’ve seen, plug me in” sings Smith on the 6th track, “Plug In”. Described by Smith as a “brain splurge of all the things that feelfucked ip and ridiculous about reality at the moment”, this song contains a live string track behind a heavily processed vocal. It is on “Plug In” where the listener is shown most overtly the theme of technology. Smith muses on A.I., virtual porn, billionares in rockets, and “a bunch of old white men who don’t give a fuck”. At the same time he asks the listener “Are we having fun yet?” With all of these new technologies and advancements, Bastille finds it hard not to find the joy amongst the unknown. 

Give Me The Future contains three interludes; “Brave New World”, “Promises”, and “Total Dissociation”. While all three stand on their own, the most notable is “Promises” which features British Actor Riz Ahmed. The narrator dreams of a future that is less dystopian and more focused on unfiltered love. He says “The past and the future lives in the present’s energy, so show a little tenderness now and love flows endlessly. Yeah, time is on a loop like that sun, that’s its destiny.” Even when faced with a seemingly bleak future, Bastille dreams of an optimistic future full of boundless love. This optimism feels refreshing amongst such existential questions asked throughout the rest of the album.

The last track of the album, “Future Holds”, reminds us of this optimism we were introduced to in “Promises”. Smith starts the song singing “Who knows what the future holds? Don’t matter if I got you.” As the album closes, Smith finds the answers to what he has been asking throughout the project. Even as the future gets more technological and dystopian, we can all hold onto our humanity through the love we share. 

What fans say

Critics and fans alike have praised the album for its faithful dedication to the technological concept and typical complex Bastille production. NME notes that the album does ask philosophical questions about technology, but the “band keeps a focus on the humanity at the heart of the conversation”, leading the listener to the most accurate depiction of life post pandemic. NME agrees, calling Give Me The Future the “perfect soundtrack to life after lockdown.”

Metacritic calls Give Me The Future Bastile’s most expressive work yet, citing their cohesive theme and consistently complex production. Clash Music agrees, noting that the album is “Bastilles best and most expansive work” yet. Critics praise the album’s direction and stellar pop beats.

Even at its most philosophical, Bastille promises us a good time. Nobody knows what the future holds but with an album like Give Me The Future fans can be ready to enter the technological future dancing the entire way.