Clean Bandit Recruits Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora & More For ‘What Is Love?’

Mike Nied | November 30, 2018 12:06 pm

Clean Bandit has no shortage of chart-dominating smashes. Over the last two years, the trio topped the charts in the UK three times, starting with the Sean Paul and Anne-Marie-assisted “Rockabye.” They landed two additional Top 5 hits including their Julia Michaels collaboration, “I Miss You.” All of these and a bevy of new material made the tracklist for their sophomore album, What Is Love?. Arriving today (November 30), the deluxe edition is comprised of a weighty 16 songs. Considering the lengthy roll-out, it is hardly surprising that we’re already familiar with a good portion of the LP. But all of it demands your attention.

Louisa lent her voice to “Tears,” which kicked off the campaign in 2016. The rousing banger feels like a modern interpretation of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and remains a certified bop. As does their Demi Lovato duet, “Solo.” After arriving this summer, the club-ready breakup anthem became their third #1 of the era. Meanwhile, Marina and Luis Fonsi hopped on Clean Bandit’s current single, “Baby.” With more than 15 million streams in just under a month, the Latin-tinged cut could easily perform just as well. It is also impossible to forget the group’s latest buzz track, “Playboy Style.”

Calling down features from Charli XCX and (inexplicably) Bhad Bhabie, the trap-inspired banger works so much better than you’d expect. The “1999” superstar brings her signature fucks-free attitude while calling out a former flame. Impressively, the 15-year-old rap legend responsible for hits including “These Heaux” mostly keeps up. Clean Bandit balanced out the remainder of the tracklist with some familiar faces and rising stars. Ellie Goulding voices the shimmery “Mama.” Built around a stuttering chorus, the “Close To Me” diva lands a clear standout on the album.

Tove Styrke and Stefflon Don contribute another. The pair fill out “Last Goodbye,” a trop-bop that deserves a single treatment next summer. Over the hip-swinging production, the Sway hitmaker pleads for one last night with a partner before they go their separate ways. Speaking of goodbyes, Anne-Marie’s second contribution to the album – “Should’ve Known Better” – is another breakup anthem. Riding slippery synths with ease, she builds up the determination to move on from an unworthy lover. “Finally I’ve opened up my eyes,” she coos. “Why’d it take so long to see the light?”

Fresh off the release of Phoenix, Rita Ora brings some additional star power to “Nowhere.” Sharing vocal duties with KYLE, the duo rides a laid-back beat. Sonically and thematically it could be a prelude to “Should’ve Known Better.” However, ALMA puts a positive spin on a relationship with her lush “In Us I Believe.” The Finnish pop star refuses to give up on love. “You mean too much to me. This fire inside, set it alight,” she proclaims. “We’ve been through too much to just throw it all away. So, in us I believe.”

High on quality pop, I would hardly be surprised if Clean Bandit land several more serious hits this era. Press play on What Is Love? below and see if you can pick a favorite track!

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