Bastille are back and just in time for Christmas! They’ve decided to give doting fans an early present in the form of a beautifully crafted mix tape: a follow up to Other People’s Heartache. Both are examples of something that is rarely seen in pop music, but Bastille seem to do it well: mixing movie clips and soundtracks with pop music covers. They have managed to mix multiple songs into each track, blurring the lines between their own tracks and those of pop icons. Instead of seeing this as a collection of strange cover versions I’ve found embracing this as a collection of unique, original, tracks is the way forward. I’ll warn you now, if you want to experience the puzzle of working each reference out, don’t read on, as I will ruin the surprise. Bah humbug.
It opens with a track titled ‘Tuning In’ which takes us back to the first Other People’s Heartache, much like a pre-ad before television series’: “Previously on Other People’s Heartache” says the filmic voiceover we all know. It’s unlike any other mix-tape. The intro ends with a choir eerily singing the chorus of the band’s own song ‘Icarus’ finishing on a subtle ‘oh my god, we’re back again’ (re: Backstreet Boys). This leads us nicely into Bastille’s unique take on the Seal classic ‘Killer’ featuring regular collaborator F*U*G*Z. They don’t alter it all that much from the original Adamski and Seal version apart from adding the classic line from Back To The Future: “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet, but your kids are gonna love it” and the iconic ‘I will find you, and I will kill you’ line from Liam Neeson in Taken. It’s updated with the modern sounds of trap and enhanced vocal effects. The track is still instantly recognisable as Dan Smith sings “solitary brother, is there still a part of you that wants to live?” much like the original.
The next track in my eyes is genius. ‘No Angels’ a mash up of the ‘Angels’ instrumental by The xx and the lyrics from 90’s classic, TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’. Upon a first listen this was an instant favourite. Dan Smith singing those legendary lines theoretically shouldn’t work, but it really does! Mixing it with synonymous lines from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and female vocals from Ella it was like a puzzle of references to solve. Why are these references put together? How do they come to a logical connection? But believe me, it works, you only have to listen to the track to find this out. Next a track featuring Ralph Pelleymounter of To Kill A King called ‘Walk into Oblivion’ a track riddled with lines from Full Metal Jacket. The country feel would make it feel right at home in a Western movie, the whistling woodwind alongside Ralph’s haunting vocals make it a unique track on the mix-tape.
This leads nicely into the next track ‘Forever Ever’. In fact you can’t tell where one song ends and another begins. As the words of ‘Bad Blood‘ are whispered to the listener in comes the fantastic Kate Tempest. Perhaps my favourite collaborator on this mix-tape, her unique poetic rap juxtaposed with her South London accent instantly grabs attention. It’s a great version of ‘Bad Blood’. Another ‘how does he do it?!’ moment comes in when ‘Ready or Not’ by Fugees seamlessly mashes with the end of the track. Bastille seem to be ahead of the game in a lot of ways. For example recent success Gabrielle Aplin features on track called ‘Dreams’. A beautiful cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic. It all seems very apt considering her booming success with single ‘Power of Love‘ i.e. that one on the John Lewis advert. Her vocals paired with those of Dan Smith combined with a smooth electro beat really boost the nineties classic. It opens with a reference from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which in fact alludes to the nineteenth century poem ‘Ode’ by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. Referenception?
‘Thinkin’ Ahead’ is the next track. Drawing on one of the albums of 2012, Bastille have taken ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ by Frank Ocean. Merged with Donnie Darko quotes it makes the song eerie compared to the mellow RnB original. The next track has a very 80s pop feel as it adapts hit single ‘Private Dancer’ by Tina Turner. An odd choice, but after hearing this mix-tape you’ll start to believe in the cliché that ‘anything is possible’ especially when this track goes into another 90s pop hit ‘Set You Free’ by N Trance. Dan’s voice is surprisingly well suited to the lyrics of 80s/90s pop. The synonymous American Beauty soundtrack opens ‘Sweet Pompeii’ followed by that infamous dialogue between Spacey’s Lester Burnham and Angela. This song starts with so much potential and I feel is slightly ruined by the random influx of Calvin Harris’ ‘Sweet Nothing’ track paired with the lyrics of ‘Pompeii’. Having said that, mixing my favourite film with Bastille’s next single can’t be a bad move entirely. ‘Basement’ features F*U*G*Z, whose rapping skills are put centre stage. Merging the rap with Bastille’s ‘Get Home’ doesn’t really work on paper as it’s one of their calmer, acoustic tracks yet, like I’ve said, it really does work in reality and it perhaps one of my favourite tracks. The mix-tape finishes on a Christmassy note with a version of ‘Oh Holy Night’ complete with Home Alone quotes. So there you have it, a massive ‘Merry Christmas’ from Bastille.
Both mix-tapes are available to download for free at http://otherpeoplesheartache.com