Friday, March 31st, 2017

Clean Bandit ft. Zara Larsson – Symphony

Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphonyyy…


Claire Biddles: Aiming for the simple rhapsody of their masterpiece “Rather Be,” “Symphony” is a thing of joy that leaves both Clean Bandit’s electronic and classical elements room to breathe. The central love-as-music metaphor has been done a thousand times before of course — most notably in Kelis’ ode to motherhood “Acapella” — but it feels appropriate for Clean Bandit, so much so that I’m surprised they haven’t used it before. There’s always been a tongue-in-cheek knowing to their use of classical themes, and the extension to meta lyrics suits them. It’s especially cute when (exceptionally well chosen) guest singer Zara Larsson’s confession that “I was solo singing on my own / now I can’t find the key without you” acts as a cue for the strings to swell behind her. I was an unabashed fan of weirdo number one hit “Rockabye,” but it’s equally as delightful to hear something uncomplicated and effervescent from Clean Bandit.

Rebecca A. Gowns: It’s a pet peeve of mine when pop songs refer to more complex musical forms in an offhand way, like it all means the same thing. A song is not equal to a melody, which is not equal to a symphony or an orchestra or anything else like that. (My father is a music professor and he passed this pedantry on to me.) It would also be less of a jarring comparison if the song sounded more full, orchestral, had four movements, whatever — as it is, it’s tissue-paper-thin. BUT if I don’t pay attention to the words — which is hard, since the arrangement is so scant that you can hear every word as if it was written in bold — I can still enjoy the ephemeral little bip-bop music that Clean Bandit is so good at putting together.

Will Adams: I’m always amused by songs that use extended music metaphors because I start thinking of how to take them even further (“You’re my perfect authentic cadence”; “Before you my chord was unresolved”; “Life was flat but you sharpened everything”). As it stands, “Symphony” is both “Acapella”-lite and “Rather Be”-lite, failing to recapture either song’s effusive devotion and opting for inoffensive prettiness.

Hannah Jocelyn: All of Clean Bandit’s songs sound the same, to the point where I was convinced I had an older song of theirs on at the beginning. Nonetheless, there’s nothing wrong with that, because their sound almost always works well. Zara’s still trying to find her identity, but she’s a surprisingly good match, even as her heavier voice would theoretically be a contrast to Clean Bandit’s peppy music.

Katherine St Asaph: I like this when the melodies start to sound like something Nina Persson would sing. So only for about 10% its runlength.

Thomas Inskeep: Formula turns formulaic, on both parts.

Peter Ryan: The soft bits don’t signify restraint so much as provide contrast for the eruption of a chorus, by now Clean Bandit’s stock-and-trade. I wonder how long they’ve been sitting on the song title, but at least they saved it for their very biggest, corniest single to date. It also makes the best case yet for their project’s existence. For once nearly every exuberant sonic trinket locks into place — only the second half-time feels awkward — and for all the grandiosity there’s a bracingly intimate core, such that Larsson’s overtures don’t feel the least bit glib. It’s the sound of their vision coming together.

William John: The introductory twinkles allude to the understated grace of Alicia Keys’ overlooked “In Common“; the reality is, as the song’s title suggests, far more grandiose. The principal issue here is that the central metaphor is confused. Following up a brazen declaration of “Symphony!” with the words “like a love song on the radio” seems peculiarly incongruent. More to the point, a symphony is work of many movements and components, which doesn’t align with the conceit of two lovers destined to be together forever. Then again, a cry of something like “Duet!” wouldn’t carry half the required bombast, and Zara Larsson has the kind of malleable, amenable voice to make even the mundane or muddled sound exuberantly sublime.

Reader average: [3.85] (7 votes)

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One Response to “Clean Bandit ft. Zara Larsson – Symphony”

  1. me and peter with dem [8]s!!