“This album is a concept record,” frontman Dan Smith explains to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “We’re telling the course of a night out during the apocalypse.” The pop quartet begins with the giddy expectations of “Quarter Past Midnight” and hurtles toward the booze-fueled euphoria of “Million Pieces” before morning breaks and a text from a crush on the upbeat “Joy” ends the party—and the album.
“When you try and do something that’s different and creative—particularly in the environment at the moment with people being obsessed with single songs—it’s so nice to double down and care about those songs but really think about a record and a narrative,” says Smith. Their third album brings together the skyscraping choruses of debut Bad Blood, electronic experimentation of follow-up Wild World, and gospel singers from their 2018 ReOrchestrated UK tour in a dizzying reflection of the turbulent times we live in.
These elements come together spectacularly on the saxophone-powered “Those Nights.” “We wanted to write something about that point in the night when you’re craving human contact and create something woozy and beautiful,” says Smith. The quartet’s drums replicate “that moment just before the night blurs out into oblivion.” Doom Days addresses social anxiety (“The Waves”), phone addiction (“Doom Days”), excess (“Nocturnal Creatures”), and political apathy (“Million Pieces”), but the Londoners are confident that redemption can be found in human interaction and a good party.
Quarter Past Midnight
11 Songs, 40 Minutes
June 14, 2019
A Virgin EMI Records release; ℗ 2019 Virgin Records Ltd