The past few months have had their ups and downs for the electro-classical Clean Bandit. Tears (feat. Louisa Johnson) was a welcome return, but now the band are without one member, after violinist Neil Amin-Smith announced he was leaving the band earlier this month. It’s an absence which has shocked fans, and can be felt when listening to Clean Bandit’s latest single, Rockabye (feat. Sean Paul and Anne-Marie).
Rather Be defined Clean Bandit. Their fusion of violin melodies alongside dance rhythms and synths introduced classical music (well, in a sense) to a new audience. It was a new style of pop, with a sprinkling of an orchestral vibe, which made the single – featuring Jess Glynne – and their debut album such a success.
It’s now 2016, and Clean Bandit join Two Door Cinema Club and other artists by releasing new material with a fresh new tone. Audiences love that: a sense of progression yet similarity. With Tears, there’s a different club-like feel to their electronic style, and the strings make an appearance in the chorus. Yet, apart from the build-up at the start of the song, they’re absent in the verses. It felt less like a 50/50 split between the two musical genres that we can hear on Extraordinary (feat. Sharna Bass) and Real Love (feat. Jess Glynne), with more of a focus placed on the various synth tones Clean Bandit can explore.
If anything, the calypso Rockabye is reminiscent of Come Over, with bouncy synthesiser chords and an offbeat drum rhythm. Yet this time, Sean Paul is on hand to provide the smooth-sounding vocals instead of Stylo G, and he does this alongside Anne-Marie – who offers a more soulful voice in the chorus. Aside from a change in featured artists, the main melody is a funky mishmash of choppy lyrics and a pronounced bass riff. However, strings seem to have taken a step back in Clean Bandit’s latest release.
Granted, this is the band’s first single since Neil’s departure, and that may be part of it, but apart from the fluttering introduction and conclusion, most of the track seems to be more of a tropical pop song as opposed to one which fuses that with orchestral undertones. It was this perfect merging of genres which made Come Over so successful. Whilst Rockabye fits nicely into the rise in tropical music, it feels out of place compared to Clean Bandit’s previous work.
Hopefully future releases see the trio continue to cover new ground in the world of music, whilst returning to a more even split between classical and electronica – the unique blend which helped them to stand out in the first place.
What do you think of Rockabye? Do you like Clean Bandit’s new style? How do you feel about Neil leaving the band? Comment below!