Clean Bandit made a name for themselves with their 2014 debut New Eyes, merging violins with boppy keyboard chords, and high-profile guest artists. Four years later, they’re at it again, quite literally producing the same sounds on their second album What Is Love?
Symphony and Rockabye are the big hitters here, released in 2016 and 2017 respectively; but they’ve been around so long, it’s hard to see them as part of the album.
The rest is just confusing. Songs like Baby, Solo, Mama, and Out At Night unashamedly hijack a Latin guitar the way Shakira or Camila Cabello might, but it doesn’t mesh with their dated Eurovision-style keys. When reggaeton beats and steel pans worm their way into other songs, it’s almost offensive.
With so many big-name artists, you’d expect some quality control, but there is almost no cohesion, despite the use of the same chord progression for almost every track.
Craig David’s voice works well with Kirsten Joy’s on We Were Just Kids, and Rita Ora makes Nowhere the most interesting track, but even this falls victim to a lead riff – from a recorder.
Clean Bandit may be asking “what is love?”, but based on this album, the rest of us are asking “what is music?”