On his fifth solo studio album, EDM super star Calvin Harris gives us a collection of funky jams with a plethora of star studded features.
Scottish producer Calvin Harris joined the EDM movement in a prime time, during 2007 with I Created Disco, his debut album. After that and another abysmal album, he spiced things up and got people’s attention on 18 Months. Since then, he has skyrocketed into an international icon for electronic music. Once you’ve added a headlining set for Coachella to your resume, it’s evident you’re doing something right. On his most recent album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, Harris shows us a different side of him and previews his next direction for his music. After four albums of sticking to the same repeated formula of EDM producing, he goes for a modernized disco-funk approach on his new LP.
Running 10 tracks long totaling 37 minutes of play time, Harris has made a collection of feel-good summer jams that are, as the title suggests, bouncy. Through the 10 tracks, Harris features some of today’s biggest names in pop and hip-hop music. Pharrell Williams, Frank Ocean, Young Thug, Migos, Snoop Dogg, ScHoolboy Q, Lil Yachty, Ariana Grande, Big Sean, John Legend, Takeoff, D.R.A.M, Khalid, Katy Perry and others all appear on the album.
While it may seem a bit inordinate to have this many people on an album running only 10 tracks long, Harris does a good job of preventing the listeners from feeling overwhelmed from possible overcrowding from the features on the album. The project has a very mellow attitude, and flows seamlessly. Harris’ production is substantial, groovy, and dance-inducing. Throughout listening, I was constantly drawing comparisons to Flume. Harris and Flume aren’t necessarily your typical “head-banging” producers. However, they bring a much needed element to electronic music that isn’t always there: a funky rhythm.
It’s pretty evident that the goal of this album was to be dance inducing. The downfall of this album? Lyrical substance and uniqueness lack heavily throughout. The male features on the project mainly focus on bragging about money & other notable accomplishments. The female features on the other hand, talk about emotional instability and themes of love. In other words, nothing special lyrically came of this album. However, the lyrics are quite catchy. “I’ve been rolling on the freeway, I’ve been riding 85” Khalid chants on the hook of ‘Rollin’. As soon as the chorus ends and Future’s part starts, the song’s pizazz ends abruptly. Future’s voice is so unflattering and messy to the point that I don’t know what he’s saying in the song (that happens more often than not in his songs, though).
While Harris gives us a taste of something new, it’s clear his new direction needs a little bit of fixing and work before it can be considered a complete success. This is an album that you can listen to sitting by the pool, at a party, etc. At the very least, this album served it’s purpose. It sounds catchy, people love the features, and the lyrics get stuck in your head. Harris’ abilities as a producer are unquestionably exceptional, and this album is a step in the right direction. However; in order for him to transcend electronic music even more, he must create more excitement in his music, rather than relying on his features to carry his beats. We already have DJ Khaled for that.
You can stream Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 below.