How NOT to write about music – 37. Clean Bandit

clean bandit baby

Oh, fuck.

I feel like I’ve slipped over the edge of the vortex. It’s dark here, and full of unfamiliar smells. (Is this what cultural appropriation smells like? The smell of pine disinfectant?) Clean Bandit belong in the same category as Dua Lipa as Calvin Harris and Jess Glynne, the anonymous pop stars who have risen without trace. Found yourself stuck in a loop listening to the same 90-minute segment of Radio One over again, unable to differentiate between any of the music being played (or banter, or jokes, or “human interest” pieces, or competitions)? Blame these artists: pop Polycell designed to clog up any living, breathing arteries: there to muffle the not-silence and blare of headlights streaking towards you down darkened West Sussex country roads; the smile is not on the face of the tiger. The rise of sad pop. Not melancholy, just sad.

And yet. And yet. And yet…

Reasons to hate Clean Bandit 1: that beard.

Reasons to love Clean Bandit 1: the presence here of Marina singing like a Welsh Mariza. (That makes it sound like I do not appreciate her performance here. I LOVE her performance here. I am just trying to point out the obvious for those unfamiliar with fado.)

Reasons to love Clean Bandit 2: the presence here of Marina. She is so wonderful, has always been so. (Stupid to compare her to others.) The way the tune modulates, and its whisper of flamenco guitar. It’s very Eurovision. You’re looking at me like that is a bad thing. How is that a bad thing? That is not a bad thing. A love for Eurovision indicates a love for cutting loose from common boundaries of decency and taste. Nothing wrong with cutting loose from common boundaries of decency and taste. Marina sounds pathetic. Not bad pathetic but sweepingly gorrrgeous beautifully pathetic. I love Eurovision when it sounds like this, when it cuts into the abyss and hastens my descent. Oh my fucking GOD. I am recommending a tune that features Clean Bandit. Kill me now. Please. Kill me now.

There is pointed heartbreak in the hook. As the lady sings before being counterpointed by a Spanish swooner, “Hard to say it’s over, but I’m already someone else’s baby”. Not right that something so trivial should be made to sound so earth-shattering.

Reasons to hate Clean Bandit 2: they’re no Ariana Grande. But what is, right now? What is?

Rolling Stone sums it up reasonably:

Singer Marina (formerly Marina and the Diamonds) explores heartbreak and a new sound with the help of a UK electro-op duo and a Latin-pop superstar.

I didn’t know electro-op was a thing.

I’ve slipped over the edge of the abyss. I am praising a song Clean Bandit are involved in (but of course, they are only the conduit, the enablers). And I don’t give a fuck who hears me as I scream.