“Feeling helpless I go looking for distraction — I go searching for you.”
The age of social media and overconsumption isn’t a new think piece topic. In fact, it’s at the center of every conversation nowadays. It’s the enemy and the savior; spreading hate and starting revolutions; tearing people down and bringing them together. While we all live in this reality dimly lit by countless screens, it’s something I drown in. My literal livelihood. I’m slowly suffocating by how much I need it to survive.
Enter in Bastille‘s Wild World and the concept of WWCOMMS, an all seeing media corporation that was the backbone for the band’s first proper album marketing campaign. It was beautifully poetic that the act of overconsumption and use of social media were the driving forces behind an album that questions it all. From a Snapchat scavenger hunt and Facebook Live streams, contributing to the mass of content was definitely ironic and endlessly brilliant. During the promotion leading to its release, lead singer Dan Smith has stated Wild World stems from reacting to current events and how we lean on each other, other human beings, to get from one day to the next. In short, the world is fucked but people and our relationships are good.
As you make your way through Wild World, the overall theme intensifies and reaches full impact on “Warmth,” the track where the album’s namesake is taken.
“Put your hands right over my eyes, deafen me with music.”
We can sit here and break apart the album with its rich, textured, and carefully constructed production. We can analyze the chosen samples and sound bites and how they correlate with the projected meaning of the track. We can talk about how it defies genre and refuses to conform to what everyone thought they thought a Bastille album could/should be. We can mention that Smith’s vocals act as the heart of all 19 tracks and is its most vital instrument. And we can also point that, whether it is or not, this album feels more personal than Bad Blood could ever be. But none of these things (all of which are true) are the real triumph of Wild World, or any great album really. The real triumph is what the person listening takes away after the last track fades out.
I’ve half joked that Dan and I are on the same life crisis cycle. Bad Blood was the quarter life crisis and now that we’ve survived that (barely), we’re entering the Wild World life crisis. A crisis that acknowledges all the bullshit going on in the world and realizes that there’s no solution for it, not that you were looking one. What this crisis is, is trying to find people who you can just simply be around to tune out all that bullshit.
I used to be able to be blissfully unaware of what was going on in the world. Now with my job, not only am I aware — I’m in the thick of it. With mass shootings, politics, natural disasters, celebrity culture, memes — it’s one thing to know what’s happening and another to watch it in real time. It’s a completely different level to add more to the already saturated world that is #content. I remember sitting at my desk as the attacks in Paris unfolded, my head slowly burying into my face as I watched people tweeting in the hashtag for people to come help them, they were being shot at. That was the first time I cried at work. I remember seeing the names of shooting victims become trending topics, Facebook profile photos changing to country flag colors, and a demand for essay long statuses to ensure that you sympathized with something you couldn’t even fathom was happening. At the same time, I was creating gifs of Donald Trump’s facial expressions at debates and turning on Twitter notifications for Taylor Swift in case she responded to Nicki Minaj while I was away from my laptop. If I don’t consume it, I feel guilty for not doing so. How can you tear yourself away from something that doesn’t ever stop? Well, you don’t. You distract yourself and you waste time with people who help distract you. That’s what saves you.
My favorite pieces of art have a common theme: it only takes one person to change the world. It takes one person to put things into motion but it takes finding a group of people who share that same vision to actually start any sort of progression. Good people exist, they really do. And those good people will find each other because they’re meant to. In this wild, wild world, that’s the only thing we can rely on.