Electro dance pop as a genre has never claimed to be high art, preferring instead to appeal to the broadest fan base possible by sticking to its tried and true formulas. Yes, electro dance pop wants to sell singles, climb charts, and pack dance floors with college kids across the globe, and Clean Bandit is a group that pursues this agenda unabashedly. Yet they manage to stick to the pop program while pulling in some high art to give the dance floor a much needed and sexy IQ bump. The works of Mozart and Beethoven ride again, and this time it’s on the breathless, smiling workhorse of UK dance pop. By pulling string arrangements and classical chord progressions up alongside pop vocals straight out of Adele’s songbook, the classically trained quartet aren’t necessarily breaking new ground artistically, but what they lack in originality they make up for with pleasing variations on familiar ground.
Having released six singles off their 2014 album, New Eyes, they’re starting to make ripples felt on our side of the Atlantic. At their best, on songs like British chart topper “Rather Be,” they sound like Scissor Sisters starting a dance party on the set of the movie Amadeus. Occasionally the heartbroken robot voice made hip by Daft Punk speaks up, pushing songs like “Dust Clears” and “New Eyes” from pop inanity to compelling hits that you’re not embarrassed to make your friends listen to. But these are rogue waves in an often flat sea of bad lyrics and poor choice of featured artists. Both songs featuring regular contributor Love Ssega are easily the two weakest songs on the album, reminding many of us how electro pop can clear the dance floor of everyone except the people you despise from your graduating class.
The good news is that the four young Brits who make up the band proper are bona fide musicians fully capable of bringing Shostakovich back into your life in a way we can all relate to: on the dance floor. »
– Ethan Martin