Friday, July 14th, 2017

Clean Bandit & Marina – Disconnect

Hooray for Marina!


Claire Biddles: As soon as I heard that Marina Diamandis was guesting on a Clean Bandit track I was ready to hit that all caps button and give it a big fat [10]. Clean Bandit are kind of only as good as the feat. company they keep, and Marina is such a coup — she’s got pop sensibility and the charismatic weirdness that brings out the essence of what makes Clean Bandit a worthwhile pop prospect, like a level-up of previous guest vocalists Anne-Marie and Zara Larsson. But “Disconnect” is so… ordinary? It makes sense: Gentle, mid-tempo beats are appropriate to soundtrack switching off your phone and going on a yoga retreat, but it’s a bit too gentle, a bit basic, and it ends up coasting along rather than sticking. It’s nice, like a browse through a self-care article in Grazia on a Sunday, which isn’t what I want from Clean Bandit or Marina. The muted rave piano way out in the distance is taunting me, a poppers-wielding ghost of the all-out banger that this could have been. I know it’s unfair to judge a song based on your idea of what a song should be, but I can’t help thinking my fanfic Marina/Clean Bandit song is much more exciting and weird than the reality. 

Katie Gill: Holy shit, Marina? Marina like Marina and the Diamonds Marina. Is this 2011? The electronic backing’s perfect for a song titled “Disconnect,” giving the song a disjointed computer sort of feel that fits the also slightly-disjointed and frankly pretty basic lyrics…and then those violins kick in. Clean Bandit really can’t help themselves, can they?

Alex Clifton: There’s something really pleasant having a song about disconnecting from technology also be a very electronic/techno-friendly number–I’d probably loathe this if it were acoustic, as that’d beat the message into the ground. Clean Bandit’s production here is pretty and muted: it gives Marina’s voice what it needs to shine without clouding it unnecessarily. Marina’s discography is no stranger to anxiety (“I want to erase every nasty thought that bugs me every day of every week“) and her vocals here are polished yet vulnerable. Together, they make a good team; the sum of their parts elevates this above much of the EDM on the charts thanks to their toned-back approach.

Alfred Soto: The anxiety of unplugging from technology by submerging in a quietly throbbing dance track — these are dialectics I can move to.

Iain Mew: Marina’s versatility means the fact that she proves great at sounding immaculately unhappy over a dark synth pulse is no surprise. It’s the latest in a run of smart new choices for Clean Bandit, though. And even if I would love them to have used the tools at their disposal to step up the intensity more (I’m thinking the middle 8 from Robyn’s “Indestructible,”) the way that “Disconnect” curdles into restless exhaustion is a great match for the topic, a series of phantom phone notifications played out into a sigh.

Joshua Copperman: I like that a song about needing to escape is itself restrained, especially for the usually-extra Marina, but there’s not enough energy to compensate. The ambient, folky oohs are pretty, as is the reverb on Marina’s voice, but I wish they didn’t mask the distant house piano and the canned-sounding strings. (Clean Bandit’s whole thing was incorporating real strings into dance music; shouldn’t they be more prominent?) Things lift up toward the end, but considering Clean Bandit is capable of songs like “Symphony” – which has grown leaps and bounds on me – as well as more laid-back but still effective songs like “Dust Clears”, it’s a bit underwhelming. Not bad by any means, though.

Will Adams: Despite the similar premise, “Disconnect” reads as an inversion of “Telemiscommunications” — where Imogen Heap longs for connection in an age where that is (counter-intuitively) quite difficult, Marina finds the constant interaction overwhelming. She saves the song from being a trite “Technology bad!” message with a simple plea for self-care: “Need to look after myself,” at that very moment sounding like she will. It’s a sentiment that works well with Clean Bandit’s signature sound: feather-light house that could blow away at any moment but has the resolve to carry through.

Adaora Ede: The Bandits’ modus operandi on “Disconnect” is prima donna oriented disco, feeling quite far flung from their last major pop output by decades, locales, sentiments. For me, despite the daintied EDM that makes this different, this rings a bit like Dua Lip singing along to an ABBA remix at karaoke. The lyricism in this track is perhaps too literal of an interpretation of the overconnectedness of our time for someone like Marina Diamandis- I probs tolerate “Looking at the screen/ glowing in the dark/ I just wanna dream” a lil’ more coming from the oeurve of Hannah Diamond or someone else from the PC Music void- but it’s a good example of how modern house music can be not gaudy at all times.

Stephen Eisermann: A Black Mirror episode in song form, this song suffers the same fate as most episodes: very slow build up and a not entirely worth-it payoff. Still, the premise of needing to disconnect from technology played against an electronic staging is interesting, but it’s no “San Junipero.” It’s the weird “we’re watching from your webcam” one at best. 

Thomas Inskeep: A house track shoehorned into a pop single that’s fine, but only fine. 

Reader average: [7] (3 votes)

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One Response to “Clean Bandit & Marina – Disconnect”

  1. i managed to skip this when it came out but have been listening to it on repeat for the last hour and 100% agree with will’s blurb/score

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