Calvin Harris’ new album brings with it a radical change in the persona of the musical maestro. Sharron Lynskey reviews his latest release, 18 months…
Images of a pineapple-dancing lunatic seem a distant memory in comparison to the polished and skilled producer Calvin has become. With more big names than a Glastonbury set list, 18 Months sees Calvin take a considerable step back from the microphone and pave the way for a variety of pop’s familiar faces. This annual of current pop transcribes as a predictable and altogether tiresome collection of the same thundering basses and fast-tempo electronics.
Calvin’s collaboration with Rihanna in “We Found Love” cemented his reputation as a must-have producer and the track itself became one of the stand-alone hits of the decade with its troubled disco feel and memorable beats. However, his subsequent singles seem to emphasise the same mesh of adrenaline-filled electronics and elevating rhythms. Although these chart anthems do highlight the Scotsman’s profound and genuinely astounding ability as a producer, they also seem to suggest that he exists purely as a fancy prop for big names such as Florence Welch, Tinie Tempah and Example.
Six out of fifteen tracks in this album are over a year old, and this statement itself may serve to heighten the sense of monotony and lack of excitement felt since the release of Harris’ third studio album. Very few distinctive tracks emerge from this album but Calvin’s collaboration with Ellie Goulding does provide a little spark of creativity. His strong, dance beats combined with Ellie’s distinct and delicate vocals, although an unlikely combination, serve as probably the most interesting feature on this album. His partnership with Tinie Tempah sticks to the plan and although it is not very innovative, it will most certainly prove a big hit with Calvin’s fan base of fist-pumping adolescents.
Nostalgia for great beats is noticeable in numbers such as ‘School’ and ‘Mansion’ and these tracks do, if even for a fleeting moment, bring us back to Harris’ roots of old school funk. Unfortunately, these brief flashes of hope only provide as a meaningless accessory to the same old club tunes.
In 18 Months, Calvin seems stuck in the role of producer-extraordinaire, barely breezing through the charts at a less-than-exciting rate. It appears as a genre difficult to break away from and probably the most interesting aspect of this album is wondering where he will go from here. Nonetheless, one thing’s for sure: Calvin Harris knows how to appeal to the masses and many of the tracks will more than likely prove a major success. Although his ability to produce and make great hits is unrivaled I personally feel this album lacked imagination and the innovation expected of a renowned and prominent chart icon.