Wrapping up an incredible year in which they won Best Breakthrough at the BRIT Awards, conquered America with the hit single “Pompeii,” and watches sales of their debut album soar past the two million mark, London quartet Bastille return to their mixtape series with VS: Other People’s Heartache Part III.
Unlike their 2012 first two installments, which mashed up classics from Snap & Corona, and TLC and The xx, and interspersed covers of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” and Christmas carol “O Holy Night” with clips from Requiem For A Dream and Home Alone, respectively, this latest stopgap release is an entirely original affair.
A handful of VS: Other People’s Heartache Part III numbers may already be familiar to Bastille’s ever growing fan base. Featuring the guest vocals of rising star MNEK, the grimy R&B of “bad_news” is a dramatic reworking of a cut from their Oblivion E.P., while the falsetto-led “The Driver” first appeared on Zane Lowe’s controversial rescoring of cult Ryan Gosling flick Drive.
But for the most part, this nine-track collection is a brand new mix of electronica, indie and hip-hop packed with both emerging and established star names, even if Dan Smith and co. don’t always utilise them in the most effective way.
Indeed, sisterly trio Haim’s trademark harmonies are buried deep into the mix on the crunching alt-pop of “Bite Down,” while Minneapolis alt-rapper Lizzo is only given a minute to showcase her talents on the hip-pop interlude “Torn Apart Pt.II.”
Feisty MC Angel Haze fares much better, her breakneck speed flow serving as the perfect foil for the scuzzy synths and pounding drums of “Weapon.” Likewise, bluesman Rag N Bone Man’s dark brooding tones take the closing track “Remains” into Nick Cave-esque murder ballad territory before he hands the reins over to Skunk Anansie’s equally emotive Skin.
VS: Other People’s Heartache Part III is therefore an intriguing but inconsistent affair which doesn’t quite live up to the standard of Bad Blood, but should tide fans over until its official follow-up next year.