Calvin Harris has certainly evolved a good deal since his breakthrough record ‘Acceptable In The ’80s’. The scruffy young Scottish lad has bloomed into a buff Calvin Klein model, settled down in a bachelor pad in LA and has become pals with a ream of A-list celebrities, all the while making a name for himself as the world’s biggest pop DJ. Naturally, with this shift from his humble beginnings one would expect his music to have changed somewhat, and with so much input from other world class artists it would be easy for Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 to feel crowded and generically produced for the masses. However, it’s turned out to be the most organic music he has made in a while. Ditching the formulaic “drop DJ” tracks made only for the purpose of topping the charts, Harris has instead allowed himself to return to his laid back, post-disco groove.
On initial glance the sheer volume of featured artists on this album is overwhelming. The credit listing in the album’s liner notes could easily be mistaken for the current Top 40 list, with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Future, Ariana Grande and Pharrell Williams (to name just a few) all adding their two cents, and their individual colossal standings could definitely have had the potential to cause a few ego clashes. The idea of Snoop Dogg, John Legend and Migos’ Takeoff all featuring on a single track poses the danger of overkill, with too many big names and big sounds competing for the spotlight, (especially after Takeoff’s “left off Bad and Boujee” drama), but ‘Holiday’ turns out to be just as mellow and sunny as the rest of the album.
Kehlani and Jessie Reyez bring a softer, soulful side to the star studded record in their respective tracks ‘Faking It’ and ‘Hard To Love’, and Harris’ decision to include Lil Yachty and Reyez praising the music at the end of their tracks reflects how the album feels as a whole; a group of artists who seem genuinely excited to collectively contribute their creative assets, all in the name of good music.
Harris has undertaken a massive task in amalgamating so many artists in one album, but he has capably pulled it off. The list of A-list features will no doubt help boost the album’s radio plays, but it does not feel like a crutch for the album to lean on. The tone of the album remains cool and consistent, and Calvin’s signature style is prominent in the production. The balance is just right in ensuring the featuring artists don’t smother his creation, but also that they aren’t stifled. Harris utilises their own individual styles to enhance the album, with each artist sounding like they belong on that specific track for a reason.
Having successfully grown his platform, Calvin Harris is taking advantage of his celebrity status and now seems to beusing it to produce the music he wants to. Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 is an authentic sunny slice of LA living, with enough hits to trickle through the charts all summer long.