Though their debut album, Bad Blood, was released in 2012 and their huge hit "Pompeii" dominated the airwaves in 2013, Bastille never really went away during the years that followed. Thanks to mixtapes like VS. and their consistent touring -- as well as their fondness for premiering songs in concert -- Wild World's arrival in 2016 felt more inevitable than surprising. Even so, the refinements they've made since Bad Blood are striking. Bastille have learned exactly what people want from them, and "Pompeii" provides the model for the album's punchy production and sharpened hooks (although none of them are quite as ingenious as that song's a cappella chant). Sometimes, the band borrows from the song blatantly: On "Snakes," Dan Smith prays for "the ground to swallow me whole," and when he asks "What's gonna be left of the world if you're not in it?" on "Good Grief," it echoes "Pompeii"'s questioning chorus, "How am I going to be an optimist about this?" More often, though, Wild World recaptures the way that song seized moments of joy in the face of disaster, whether it's the threat of a Donald Trump presidency ("The Currents") or getting older and giving up ("Lethargy"). Bastille expand on this template as much as they refine it, adding hints of R&B, dance, and rock to their anthemic pop. "Glory" is a standout, setting Smith's lilting vocals to stark, R&B-tinged verses before unleashing its massive choruses. Elsewhere, "Warmth" opens with an honest-to-goodness guitar solo, while the stomping "Blame" could be a collaboration with Imagine Dragons. When the band departs from Wild World's formula, the results are mixed; built on insistent bass and brass, "Send Them Off!" is one of the album's best and most distinctive moments, but the ballad "Two Evils" drags a bit. Nevertheless, Wild World proves that Bastille can build on their success with style. They're the kind of band that sounds better as they get bigger, and their thoughtful lyrics, jaunty melodies, and huge choruses could fill a Coldplay-shaped hole in listeners' hearts.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares