Reviewed by Anne Grant
If you think back to the last time you were drinking $3 rails at your local college bar, chances were that Calvin Harris was playing in the background. Without a doubt, Harris has become the go-to party music guy for shot-pounding, bar-trolling people everywhere. So for club/party/pregame music, Calvin Harris is certainly a solid choice. On his new release 18 Months, the album’s 15 tracks feature fun, danceable music, some just with Harris and others featuring big names (and equally big voices) like Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine and Ellie Goulding of Skrillex fame. The release includes three tracks that have been getting a lot of radio and club play lately: hits like “Feel So Close,” “We Found Love” with Rihanna, and “Let’s Go” featuring Ne-Yo. Harris’s songs feature pulsing club beats and crescendoing electric notes that intensify as the melodies progress. While the tracks produce the highly danceable beats for which they were written, when the listener takes into account the many talented collaborators who participated in this release, the songs fall a little short. The issue with Harris’s songs is their predictability; their creative, thumping beginnings often result in typical club fare of trite lyrics (see “Thinking about You”—in fact, see every track on this album). You see a glimpse of this potential on Harris’s wordless, funk-influenced track “School.” Harris is a talented mixer with the potential to produce some truly creative work. But it would require creating songs that carried more weight than run-of-the-mill club hits.