Bastille takes us to Pompeii

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By Darian van Coller

A relatively new addition to the music world since their emergence in 2010, Bastille is a surprisingly pleasant indie-rock band with an alternative feel to it.

Starting out with one member, the band grew and became famous through their debut single “Overjoyed“. But, their recent hit “Pompeii” from their debut studio album Bad Blood, first released on 4 March 2013 in the UK, seemed to gain more screaming fans and when thinking of Bastille now, I am sure this is the first song that comes to people’s minds.

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Originating from England, lead singer Dan Smith’s English accent is evident in “Pompeii”, especially when he sings “But if you close your eyes/ Does it almost feel like/ Nothing changed at all?”. In this track, the lead singer-songwriter’s rough yet soothing voice takes you as a listener to another place (hence the name “Pompeii” – ancient Roman city near Naples which met its fate during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius) and puts you in a completely different mindset and atmosphere.

What makes this band stand out is lead singer Dan Smith’s unique rough voice and accent, along with the backing vocals and the piano, drum, and guitar. The guitar stays playing simple chords while the drum features during the solo parts. The backing vocals can also be seen as a sort of acapella as they form a background beat during Dan Smith’s solo too.

Dan Smith writes his own songs for the band and surprisingly enough planned on being a journalist, and not a singer-songwriter. This 25-year old is neither loud nor attention-seeking and described himself as being very quiet as a teenager, but attention and fame is what his music brought him.

This simple-sounding yet all-so-convincing artist has a trademark sound and most songs on the album have a similar tune to them, with many “woah-woahs” and “e e o e o’s”. “Albatross” is another song off the album where many acapella sounds are also used and it gives the album a unique touch. This factor also gives the whole alternative indie-rock genre a new name as it stands out from all the other typical indie-rock bands such as The Beatles, Nirvana, and Coldplay.

The Lumineers have a similar style to Bastille. They are a folk-rock band from the US who are famously known for their single “Ho Hey“, although they did emerge into the music scene already in 2009. This song also has an acapella feel to it as the lead singer does his thing while the backing vocals sing “ho hey” repetitively in an acapella style.

In a sense, the song “Pompeii” can be interpreted both literally and figuratively as the lyrics point out the day Mont Vesuvius erupted. They also symbolise how a man became idle and watched his life fall away while he dreams of his previously happy life and wonders how to be happy in his new unhappy and monotonous life. This is also quite obvious on the album cover as it shows a man running down a dark road all alone So, it could also be seen as a form of personal expression by Dan Brown since he writes his own songs.

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Bastille is one of my favourite bands of all time owing to their unique sound, with “Pompeii” being one of my favourite songs (it was my first taste of Bastille). Their newest album, Bad Blood, does not fail to impress the ears of many alternative indie-rock lovers I know. This would not be a disappointment and would be a huge investment to a music-lover’s CD collection.

 

 

 

 

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