South London group Bastille’s new song might sound familiar to some. Flaws was the first thing Dan Smith and company released - a 7” double A-side vinyl with Icarus, back in June 2011 - the home-made video to which landed them over a quarter of a million hits on YouTube. As seems to be the trend for bands these days, they rode their acclaim and eventually decided to remove all trace of the single ever having existed so they could release it a second time. Which is fair enough.
Flaws, then, kicks things off with a clean, downward staccato from the very right end of the keyboard, before slicing into the melody with a low, booming bass which drags it immediately through the mud. Smith’s voice is unsettled and indecisive as he warbles the verse in a half-falsetto, half-Southwark twang over the top of a neat and tidy drum line. It’s very pleasant, but as far as verses go, there’s nothing particularly special or memorable here.
The pre-chorus, however, sees Bastille push the envelope slightly on vocals - Smith’s rhymes are joined by an undercurrent of harmonious a cappella, dipping into a different key altogether for two lines of the song. The words themselves are rather uninspired, but given that this is in reality quite an early piece of work by the group perhaps we can let this slide.
Smith yelps the chorus with karaoke-esque aplomb, while the spine of the song remains almost completely unchanged. While this creates a sense of unity in the track, it simultaneously feels rather monotonous; it sounds as though it's trying to be heartfelt, but the synth is far too soft, the words unexceptional, and even the oohs and aahs from the backing vocals can’t hammer it into shape. Still, the song is at least chopped up towards the end with some different dynamics and some quite lovely hooks.
Flaws is a genuinely likeable, catchy song, one that is very easy to play ad infinitum, but it lacks a certain spark to make it stand out from the crowd. If Bastille are truly the ones to break the mould in the world of pop music, they will need to craft music with more variety, more vitality, and most importantly, some kind of edge. Otherwise, while far from terrible, it’s just the same old, same old.
Flaws by Bastille is out on 21 October via Virgin Records.