Bastille – “Fake It” (Singles Going Steady)

"Fake It" is a crepuscular, R&B-shaded synthpop ballad forged from heavyhearted nostalgia and gilded in flickering neon.

Pryor Stroud: The second single from Bastille’s forthcoming LP Wild World, “Fake It” is a crepuscular, R&B-shaded synthpop ballad forged from heavyhearted nostalgia and gilded in flickering neon. Like the best Bastille tracks, lead singer Dan Smith’s vocal is planted centerstage and, as always, it’s a dazzling spectacle to behold: operatic, laden with heartache, capable of both anthemic bombast and nuanced impressionism, it’s a voice that seems to reduce everything around it to mere ornamentation — a curse, sometimes, but for “Fake It”, a blessing. “Oh my lover, my lover, my love / We can never go back,” he sings, a reverberating cry of desire expanding behind him, and as he holds the syllable of “love” on the edge of his tongue, it’s easy to envision him taking his lover’s hand, asking her to forget the city where they once shared happiness. Perhaps this was the city first imagined in the band’s 2013 breakout single “Pompeii”, a place of thriving souls now petrified in ash. [8/10]

Evan Sawdey: When Bastille performed during Lollapalooza 2016, they looked tired. One day shy of a year since the last time they performed in Chicago (then at the Aon Ballroom, where they spoke to PopMatters backstage),the group that 364 days prior said, in referring to their second full-length studio effort, that they “smashed it”, were running through a set of songs that they had been playing and playing and playing for years. When the bop of a pop single “Good Grief” dropped over a month ago, radio gave a big yawn even as they managed to achieve their single most succinct pop moment since “Pompeii” launched them into the spotlight all those years ago. “Fake It” isn’t as strong a track, but it’s clearly a textrual shift from the chant-along whoa-ooh vocals that had become their calling card. This ’80s synth-indebted mid-tempo song, like “Good Grief”, follows around a simple lyrical conceit (this time about not wasting, well, time), and while the end result is more pleasant than memorable, hearing Dan Smith singing about wanting to “destroy each mistake” feels possibly self-reflective given the long wait between studio efforts, but, especially when coupled with “Good Grief”, points to a fascinating future, just the way the band would like it. [6/10]

Chris Ingalls: The skittish beats work nicely with the almost anthemic keyboards and soaring hooks, but the dramatic production tends to distract from the fact that the song itself is kind of an empty Coldplay soundalike. There are some nice nods to ’80s dance/alt-pop, and I’m curious as to what the rest of the album is like, but there’s nothing terribly groundbreaking going on here. [6/10]

Chad Miller: Really enjoyable pop song. It sounds decently original, and the bass is so nice in the piece. The ending descant is pretty good too though it is short lived. Overall, the song’s been put together really well, and all of its elements click immediately. [7/10]

Steve Horowitz: Oh boy, here come the warm jets of English rock where repetition heightens desire. This is a love song one can never sing, just hum along in tempo to the rhythm of one’s beating heart. Destroy your mistakes before they destroy you, share your scars, and hope to do one’s best. This may be a cry of desire, but not romance. The strength of the song lies in its determination to make something out of an affair in search of love, but where love never blooms. [7/10]

SCORE: 6.80