Alright, here’s the thing. We really like encouraging homegrown British talent, we really do. We like people who mash-up genres like Rudimental, we like people doing throwbacks and adding upcoming vocalists like Disclosure, and we sure as hell like people putting strings on pretty much everything. What we’re not too keen on is someone doing all these things together and not quite pulling it off. Step forward, Clean Bandit.
We hate being mean, but for all the fanfare around Rather Be and Extraordinary, so much of New Eyes is massively disappointing and, truth be told, embarrassing. Take the opening, Mozart’s House: it’s an ludicrous mash-up of the eponymous composer’s String Quartet No. 21 and standard dance beats. It’s not just the insistence on classical that ends up being such an awkward millstone; sure, Dust Clears starts to sound like a Visit Scotland advert, but even an attempt at throwback house on Heart on Fire turns into something you might hear on a dodgy local pirate radio station at 11pm. The laboured inclusion of ska and rap fall flat pretty quickly too.
What works? Obviously the good sense to include our chanteuse du jour Rae Morris, who continues to prove she can’t set a foot wrong with Up Again. And Eliza Shaddad on the sumptuous Birch, again an example of Clean Bandit’s material being carried by vocalists far better than the material they’ve been given. The two stars we award are for these two starlets within, but our advice to Clean Bandit would be to call their next album New Ears. They could certainly do with some.