Like fellow British dance mavericks The Streets and Metronomy, South London outfit Bastille began essentially as a solo vehicle, namely for Dan Smith, a singer-songwriter previously signed to Elton John’s management company, before expanding to a more traditional bass-guitar-drums line-up.
Despite the influence of lone troubadours Antony & The Johnsons, Regina Spektor and Bat For Lashes, Smith’s intriguing blend of folk, electronica and indie-pop meant it was little wonder that he felt the need to recruit Chris ‘Woody’ Wood, Will Farquarson and Kyle Simmons to take his multi-layered sound out on the road.
Now, following well-received sets at Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight Festival, and a support slot on Emeli Sande’s UK tour, the band named after Smith’s birthday (Bastille Day) are being tipped to breakthrough in 2013 in the same way that Mercury Prize winners Alt-J did in 2012.
The band’s increasingly visible profile has undoubtedly been assisted by Smith’s obsessive love of cinema. Debut single “Flaws,” an eclectic fusion of glitchy electro, rousing folk harmonies and waltz-like beats which could have been lifted from Athlete’s playful debut, became a YouTube hit after he pieced together footage from Terence Malick’s 1973 movie Badlands to form its accompanying video. Likewise, the group recently released the second volume of Other People’s Heartache, a mix-tape series featuring mash-ups and covers of pop classics as random as Corona’s 90s Italo House classic “Rhythm Of The Night” and Fleetwood Mac’s soft-rock standard “Dreams,” interspersed with film clips from the likes of Back To The Future, Home Alone and American Beauty.
A future in film composing therefore surely awaits, but for now, Bastille are focusing on the release of their full-length debut album, Bad Blood, on March 4th, which alongside the singles “Icarus” and “Pompeii,” will also feature all four numbers from their Laura Palmer E.P. including the haunting folktronica ballad “Overjoyed” and the melodramatic synth-pop of the title track.