Video game music is usually the best way to describe Bastille to someone who’s never heard their work. Some of their most successful tracks, including “Bad Blood” and “Happier,” lean heavily on electronic flair to accentuate Dan Smith’s heavenly voice. If you don’t feel hyped up and ready to tackle the next chapter — or, in this case, level — of your life after hearing a song, you probably weren’t listening to Bastille. While their latest track “Survivin’” goes surprisingly easy on the synths and keyboards, it still has just enough autotune and dubstep undertones to fit in perfectly with Bastille’s impressive catalogue.
Within seconds, “Survivin’” transports you to a picture-perfect beach that’s somehow all yours. It’s a calm track with soothing instrumentals that stay pretty consistent throughout, but it still brings the heavy bass — are you really surprised? Somehow, the heavy thumping pairs perfectly with the easy guitar, creating a soundtrack that effortlessly floats behind Smith’s singing. Save for the brief and sudden saxophone solos at the 1:20 and 2:20 markers, “Survivin’” gives off a smooth jazz feel without a ton of instrumental surprises. This consistency makes sense, though, as the message and intention of the song are clearly to help people get through life’s trials by taking everything one moment, minute and breath at a time.
The song was penned pre-COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s super relevant today. “At the start of lockdown, I felt very self-conscious about having written a song that felt relevant when it wasn’t intended to be,” Smith shares in an interview with NME, “but then I also think 2020 is the year we all stopped pretending everything’s fine.”
Saying everything is fine when it’s most certainly not is one of Smith’s coping mechanisms, he admits to NME. With “Survivin’,” he was on a mission to make peace with some of his stressors. The song turned out to be an unexpected COVID-19 survival anthem, one which was likely cathartic for him and will surely help others process this unusual, stressful time.
Massively appreciating everyone for sending reactions to survivin’. We properly love this song and have been so excited over the last few months to finally have it out there. pic.twitter.com/IyZeS1nbaP
— BASTILLE (@bastilledan) September 23, 2020
The track isn’t just empowering, it’s also poised to be a dance-your-butt off bop. It’s wild, considering “Survivin’” has all the makings of a somber ballad. “Crawling out these sheets to see another day,” Smith sings at one point, which should be depressing but it’s somehow hopeful and joyous, in large part because of the music it’s paired with and everything that follows. He tells himself — and us, by extension — over and over again that, “I’m gonna be fine // I think I’ll be fine.” It’s hard not to believe him and, naturally, believe that we’re also going to be just fine. That’s because the lyrics are relatable and the song crescendos to a positive place. And following each chorus, Smith delves into a little jazz hall scatting of sorts that’ll undoubtedly bring a smile to your face, if it wasn’t there already.
This song centers around trying to improve your life, but it also smartly references two pieces of art that have, no doubt, been integral in elevating people’s lives: “November Rain,” the nearly nine-minute unforgettable ballad by Guns N’ Roses; and “Vanilla Sky,” the award-winning thriller from mastermind Cameron Crowe. So if the lyrics and music of “Survivin’” don’t take you to your happy place, perhaps revisiting one of these masterpieces will.
The latest track from Bastille succeeds on all fronts: It’s catchy, fun to listen to and true to form for the British band. It’s also a great tune to tide fans over until the release of their next full-length album. “I think we’re making some of the best music we’ve ever made,” Smith explains in an interview with ABC News Radio. “We want to put (some of) it out now and not wait for the whole album to be done before.” To listen to the feel-good track “Survivin’” and Bastille’s other new song, “WHAT YOU GONNA DO???,” head over to their official YouTube channel.
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