The sheer transformation of the gauche lad from Dumfries who made pleasing synth-pop numbers into the highest-paid DJ in the world is a remarkable success story. However, Calvin Harris’ 2014 album Motion felt like an awkward transition period from the commercial success of 18 Months at a time when EDM had gone from star status to becoming a cash cow. Even the collaborations on Motion couldn’t offer the same catchiness as their predecessors. Fast forward 3 years and Harris has moved away from writing dance music hits which dominate the radio in favour of sun-drenched funk infused with a combination of pop and hip-hop.
Instead of producing tracks to drop in the Ibiza clubs, Harris and his collaborators have created tunes best suited for the coastal drive on the way to the gig. What strikes me about this album, aside from the chilled vibe, are the harmonious collaborations. When I first heard ‘Slide’ and ‘Rollin’ I was sceptical of a full release following the same approach throughout. I’m pleased to say the latter is a brief blip of mediocrity.
The only person here who feels restrained here is Calvin
Snoop’s verses on ‘Holiday’ are sublime and with John Legend and Takeoff’s vocal talents added to the mix, the song remains fresh. The same goes for the combination of Pharrell and Katy Perry on ‘Feels’ – a summer pop cocktail with irresistible flavour and added spice from Big Sean. Only the auto-tuned-sounding vocals of Travis Scott and Nicki Minaj on ‘Prayers Up’ and ‘Skrt On Me’ slightly jar on the ears.
It’s hard to pick a favourite amongst this bunch of A-list cameos with every artist offering something that little bit different. The only person here who feels restrained here is Calvin – trapped in a project of funk/hip-hop crossover on which he executes fantastic backing tracks for his friends but is ultimately unable to flex his signature dance production muscles.
By Will Hunt
Calvin swaps EDM for Funk and Hip-Hop
Engaging and compatible collaborations
|1. Slide (feat. Frank Ocean and Migos)|
|2. Cash Out (feat. ScHoolboy Q, PARTYNEXTDOOR, D.R.A.M.)|
|3. Heatstroke (feat. Young Thug, Pharrell Wiliams, Ariana Grande)|
|4. Rollin (feat. Future and Khalid)|
|5. Prayers Up (feat. Travis Scott and A-Trak)|
|6. Holiday (feat. Snoop Dogg, John Legend, Takeoff)|
|7. Skrt On Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)|
|8. Feels (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean)|
|9. Faking It (feat. Kehlani and Lil Yachty)|
|10. Hard to Love (feat. Jessie Reyez)|