British retro band’s unique poetic style a hit with listeners

British retro band's unique poetic style a hit with listeners

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Laura Angle, Staff Writer

In April 2012, band members of Bastille — Dan Smith, Chris “Woody” Wood, Kyle Simmons, and Will Farquarson — crammed themselves into a cupboard-sized recording room with minimal equipment and produced their debut album “Bad Blood,” which quickly sold over a quarter of a million records.

As their popularity expanded and recording devices grew more advanced, Britain’s new retro band recorded all their symphonic pieces in the famous Abbey Road studio.

Bastille’s genre of music is very unique in the way that it cannot be categorized into one specific group.

“[I wanted to] approach each song differently,” band member Dan Smith says in Bastille’s promotional flyer.  “I wanted each to be its own story with its own atmosphere which brings in different sounds and elements of production, incorporating aspects of the different genres and styles that I love; Hip hop, indie pop and folk.”

Smith, the composer of the music and lyrics, entices his listeners with his British accent and the almost lazy slurring of his words, which contrasts with the cheery beats carrying along the melody.

Unlike most male singers, Smith has a varied vocal range. Smith jumps from one extreme to the other — first serenading the listener with his deep, masculine tones, then making his point by leaping a few octaves higher.

Not only is it how Dan Smith sings, but it’s what he sings. Most musicians today sing about a few basic topics: sex, money, love, and drugs.  One song on the album “Things We Lost in the Fire,” was inspired by a friend whose family’s house burned down. The song conveys the family’s relationship burning down and having to dig through the ashes to find who they are and what they still own.

Smiths’ lyrics sound more like poetry than a song.  He writes in his song “Things We Lost in the Fire,” “Flames they licked the walls/Tenderly they turned to dust all that I adored” (which is refreshingly different from lyrics like “I’m in the club/High off purp with some shades on/Tatted up, mini skirt with my J’s on.” Thanks, Miley Cyrus.)

Their song “Bad Blood,” which inspired the title of their album, is about losing old friendships and how to deal with that familiar stranger.  “[The song is about] growing apart from people you grew up with, and how bizarre it is that these people probably helped form the person you’ve become, and even though you don’t see them anymore, you are kind of intrinsically linked by your past” Smith says in the band’s promotional flyer.

Bastille strays from the generic noise heard on the radio today and poetically captures the struggles of teens and young adults.  “The Weight of Living” is inspired by the feeling of missing the starting gun in the race of life and no longer having control; “Get Home” is inspired by the sensation of being directionless and uncertain; and “Oblivion” raises a common theme among teenagers and young adults trying to find themselves in a mixed-up world by saying, “Are you going to age with grace?/Are you going to age without mistakes?/Are you going to age with grace, or only to wake and hide your face?”

Bastille has prevailed through all the hardships facing them as a band and as young adults and has given hope to those traveling on the same rough road by saying through their lyrics “you are not alone.  We are here and we have gone through the same hardships and we are still alive and kicking.  Do not give up.”