Calvin Harris’ new record is surprisingly really fun. Why you ask? It knows exactly what it’s supposed to do: soundtrack the summer. It’s not trying to make ballads, it’s not trying to act serious, it’s just here to have a good time, and that’s what it does.
Doing a complete 180 on his image, Calvin Harris went from a Diplo-style DJ who dates models and Taylor Swift to an image more comparable to Mark Ronson. Old school vibes and sunshine pour from this record, with beams of light emitting from each speaker it’s played on.
Crafted like a playlist for a BBQ on a beach, the album doesn’t try to create a theme or concept, rather than threading the songs together through the vibes. Sure, it sounds cheesy, but just like Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, some of the songs are impossible not to catch the spirit to. Take for instance “Feels”, armed with an absolute ear worm hook from Katy Perry and Pharrell and a verse from Big Sean, it has the potential of song of the summer. Even “Heatstroke” that has the unusual grouping of Pharrell, Ariana Grande, and the croon of Young Thug goes off without a hitch due to its infectious melodies and uplifting, mellow instrumentation.
Calvin also uses this album as an opportunity to be an A&R, DJ Khaled style. Of course, “Slide” is as good as was when it came out, with Frank and Migos collabing effortlessly to make one of the best songs of the year. Likewise, “Rollin” mashes the slurred auto-tuned vocals of Future and blends them smoothly with the beautiful vocals of Khalid, a 19 year old R&B singer who has had major success recently.
However, the album with this many people have to have at least a few duds, and it does. “Faking It” has Kehlani and Lil Yachty, making for one of the most forced songs I’ve heard in awhile. The chemistry isn’t there whatsoever, the hook does not stick and the beat feels incredibly phoned in. In the same way, the dumpster fire that is “Skrt On Me” featuring Nicki Minaj is how you don’t make a song, with piercing, auto tuned vocals and a dancehall beat that would’ve made me kill myself in 2015.
To conclude, the summery vibes, the guests, and the laid back synth funk make Calvin Harris’ new record mostly a triumph. There are some undeniable bangers on this record, and save for a few tracks, the album as a whole is completely irresistible.