Simon Price on Bastille - The revolution will be televised


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The Independent Culture

He may have the hairstyle of Henry Spencer from Eraserhead, and he may have called his first EP "Laura Palmer", but there's no alien baby nor any other Lynchian strangeness about Dan Smith's music.

Bastille are named for the French holiday on which Smith was born, and how he must thank his lucky stars it wasn't a day later: the Roman feast day of Castor & Pollux. Though, in at least one sense, that would be more fitting: the band's biggest hit is "Pompeii", which imagines inner monologues of that city's corpses, but is executed in a far less interesting way than, say, Siouxsie's "Cities in Dust".

Pitched halfway between Florence and the Machine and Alt-J, 90 per cent of Bastille's songs are based on the same four-chord progression and bassline, their lyrics packed with clichés and platitudes. It's easy to speak for everyone when saying nothing.

The surprise success of their chart-topping debut album, Bad Blood, has been assisted by its use on trashy TV shows such as Hollyoaks, which figures: most of it might have been written for that purpose. In his defence, Smith seems as baffled by Bastille's breakthrough as I am. And it has to be noted that Bastille's audience is going absolutely nuts. For me, though, that tempting "storming" gag is going to remain locked in its cell.

And now, from nowhere, something magnificent. East India Youth (The Old Market, Hove *****) is the stage name of Southampton-based William Doyle, formerly of indie rockers Doyle and the Fourfathers. Last year Doyle ditched the band, shook off the shackles of guitar music and reinvented himself as a DIY electro auteur.

All you see before you is a young man in a black hoodie, a bass guitar around his neck, hunched over a trestle manipulating knobs and consoles and at one point headbutting an effects pedal. What you hear, however, is apocalyptic.

East India Youth's lyrics are lean and sharp ("You may be moving at glacial pace, but you're not melting"), and the sounds – drawing on Krautrock, synth pop and even rave – can be astounding. They can certainly do "clever": one track takes robotic train announcements and multitracks them into a heady sampladelic symphony. But they also do "emotional": the sublime "Heaven, How Long?", which takes pop's eternal, timeworn plea for loneliness to end and satisfaction to arrive, and breathes new life into it.

The East India Youth live set consists of the debut EP "Hostel", presented with no gaps and, therefore, offering no permission to applaud. You glance around, nervously wondering whether everyone else thinks this is as mind blowing as you. When the silence finally comes, the noise is rapturous.

Critic's Choice

Troubadour Patrick Wolf plays acoustic versions of his biggest tunes at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall (Sat). Meanwhile, Suggs takes his enjoyable one-man show My Life Story in Words and Music to Kings Theatre, Portsmouth (Tue); Alban Arena, St Albans (Thu); Anvil, Basingstoke (Fri), Dorking Halls (Sat) and Cheltenham Town Hall (Sun 7).