Calvin Harris – 18 Months (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
WITH Calvin Harris you pretty much know what you’re going to get by now. Big dance anthems that lean towards the Ibiza club scene that come backed with big name vocal guests.
The template for his success was emphatically set with We Found Love, his collaboration with Rihanna, which actually featured on her last record and has been re-introduced here. Big, euphoric and reflective of the talents of both performers, it was an arms-in-the-air crowd-pleaser that actually benefitted from the melancholy undertow that Rihanna’s vocals provided.
It’s one of the few highlights to emerge from 18 Months, Harris’ third album.
Another is I Need Your Love, his collaboration with Ellie Goulding, which concentrates more on being a song than a dance anthem and which benefits from the nuances that Goulding brings. It’s by no means a classic but the swirling synth backdrop works well in tandem with Goulding’s appealing vocals.
Ne-Yo, meanwhile, adds a touch of smooth groove class to the otherwise banging Let’s Go, which while hardly original in terms of what Harris has to offer, still manages to stand out from much of the rest of the LP. And Kelis does the same to former single Bounce.
But sadly, that’s the best this 15-track monster has to offer. At its worst, the album puts forth irritating synth workouts like Mansion and Awooga, which blip and beep away at you and get under your nose in a way in a sub-standard Fatboy Slim kind of way, or Iron, which although flirting with both the sound of Jan Hammer and Daft Punk, also showcase the worst excesses and empty repetitiveness of rave pop.
Even some of the higher profile collaborations fail to ignite. Drinking From The Bottle, featuring Tinie Tempah, combines the urban with the rave and is as soulless and unpleasant as that mash-up suggests, while Here 2 China, featuring Dizzee Rascal, falls into the same trap and is arguably even worse.
Even Sweet Nothing, his most recent single offering featuring Florence Welch, fails to make an impression, emerging as almost two different songs; one featuring the sultry, classy tones of Welch and the other the trademark Ibiza sound of Harris. Put together, it simply doesn’t work.
The rest is just forgettable… making 18 Months one of the more disappointing high profile releases of the year.
Download picks: We Found Love, Bounce, I Need Your Love