VS. (Other People's Heartache, Pt. III)

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While fans waited for Bastille's second album, the band returned with another installment of its mixtape series, Other People's Heartache Pt. III. During the two years between this volume and December 2012's Other People's Heartache Pt. II, Bastille became a global chart juggernaut thanks to hits like "Pompeii," and their stardom is reflected in their collaborators this time around. Previously, they featured guests like Gabrielle Aplin; now, they're working with HAIM and Angel Haze. Despite the celebrity and the fact that this is the band's first commercially available mixtape, Other People's Heartache Pt. III retains most of the previous volumes' freewheeling experimentalism. The HAIM collaboration "Bite Down" is a standout, making the most of both parties' fondness for soaring vocals; elsewhere, Bastille explore the different facets of their lush synth pop, making it more lavish with the Gemma Sharples Quartet's help on "Fall into Your Arms" and futuristically sleek on "bad_news," a collaboration with Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and producer MNEK. The band's embrace of hip-hop feels and sounds genuine on "Weapon," where Angel Haze's relentless delivery gives their love of dramatic soundscapes a potent edge. Even the songs that sound more like Bad Blood, such as "Torn Apart" and "The Driver" (the collection's lone track credited to Bastille alone), have a looseness and immediacy that bodes well for the band's next album, and make the mixtape more than just a placeholder.

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