“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Was a question once posited by one of, if not the, most magnificent bands to walk this earth. Pop rock marvels Bastette continue to ponder the notion on their new EP, Exposed, through the lens of 2021 and their own personal experiences. As we hit a period of rock history where so many bands sound the same (yep, we’re at that point of the cycle), this five-piece are breathing life into the modern scene by taking a different approach.
While the band bathe themselves in a pop gloss, they’re still firmly in the rock camp. There’s hints of both early Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless with bright, shiny guitar tones throughout the five tracks. However, there’s still plenty of bombast on the first two tracks in “Stand Back” and “Talk About It” to draw you in before they start the calculated (but very much welcome) risks further down the EP. Indeed, they’re both the hardest rocking numbers in different ways with the former relying less on pop sensibilities in favour of dark and moody soundscapes whilst the latter opts for the straightforward gritty rocker with hints of grunge’s friendlier moments.
“Rollercoaster” steers us straight into ballad territory and brings the action down a couple of gears. However, it comes at the perfect point in the EP. It’s by far the poppiest moment of the tracks but expertly avoids falling into the trappings of slush. Instead, Caroline Kenyon’s vocals push it more into an operatic number backed by a melody perfectly representative of its name.
Meanwhile, mid-point “Sick & Twisted” acts as the perfect spine for the EP. As one of the singles in the run-up to the full release, it shows the full range of Bastette’s dynamism with cynical yet relatable lyrics and a hint of spite from swallowing the red pill. Whilst the guitars are more understated than in other tracks, they still pulse and sizzle with power whilst hints of Laura Branigan’s 80s heyday sit nicely with them to create an offbeat yet ensnaring song and the most representative of who and what Bastette are.
As an incredibly tight band without a weak track to be found on the EP, there’s a sense of catharsis running through the lyrics whilst offering a hand of support for those who may have been similarly burned. Like the greats who led the way, there’s authenticity from start to finish in both the music and lyrics as the band pull down false idols and ask hard but necessary questions. Exposed does exactly what it says on the tin. After one listen of this, there’s no doubting Bastette are sure of themselves without arrogance. Instead, they use it to ensure they don’t get pigeon-holed too deeply into one sub-genre and manage to do so with a deft hand to avoid the trappings of doing too much.
Exposed is out on September 17th