Superstar DJ and A-List celebrity Calvin Harris is back with the star-studded album Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. It’s the perfect soundtrack to your summer, however, is it really much more than that? Here is our review at NewMusicFriday.me…
There was a hell of a lot expected from Calvin Harris’ fifth studio album. His stock as a DJ has gone stratospheric after previous record 18 Months featured three number-one singles and a total of six which charted. That has allowed Harris to rope in the very biggest vocalists to feature on this week’s new release in Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. In only 10 tracks the likes of Frank Ocean, Migos, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande, Future, Khalid, Snoop Dog, John Legend, Future, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry all feature as well as more!
A lot of Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 had already graced our ears. ‘Slide’ with Frank Ocean and rap-group Migos reached the UK Top 10 and has already amassed over 275 million streams on Spotify. That track, when released, really was hugely impressive. It was a sound that no-one was expecting from the DJ and its uniqueness made Harris stand apart from other producers.
That track, when released, really was hugely impressive. It was a sound that no-one was expecting from the DJ and its uniqueness made Harris stand apart from other producers.
This led to high anticipation for the ensuing single ‘Heatstroke’. However, the track was far too similar to ‘Slide’ and just didn’t sound new anymore. Even having the names of Ariana Grande and Pharrell Williams on the track, two singers with a mass following, couldn’t pull it off. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a nice track to listen to, but just isn’t the banger we want from Harris.
That is, largely, the problem with this record. What Harris is trying to do is noble as he is clearly trying to push the genre. Unfortunately, the sound of the album is too one-dimensional to make this progressive leap effectively. Old songs such as ‘This Is What You Came For’, still one of the most current songs right now as shown by the reaction it got at Major Lazer’s Glastonbury set, ‘Blame’ and ‘Sweet Nothing’ were simply classic EDM tracks but the euphoric sound that Harris nailed each time a track was released is where his success grew from. Those huge floor-fillers are missing on Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1.
The final single before release was ‘Feels’, which is a good listen. There are a lot of artists trying to capture the sound of the 2017 summer right now but few do it better than this track. Williams appears again and Katy Perry’s taunting of “don’t be afraid to catch feels with me” is delightful. The music video (below) takes us to an exotic world and is another beuatiful effort. ‘Rollin” with up-and-coming singer Khalid and rapper Future preceded this as a single and its consistent plodding makes it a real foot-tapper.
Away from the singles, it is ‘Cash Out’ with Schoolboy Q, PARTYNEXTDOOR and DRAM which is the best track on Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, making it onto our picks of the week. All the way from the introduction of “you can rock it, you can sock it, you can even put on your brand new jacket” to the descending guitar riffs of the bridge, its a song to blare out of the car with windows down this summer.
You’ll like one song for playing whilst cruising in your car, one wile relaxing by the pool and one during a BBQ.
A lot of the album is just that. You’ll like one song for playing whilst cruising in your car, one wile relaxing by the pool and one during a BBQ. There aren’t really any tracks, aside from perhaps ‘Slide’, that really pull your attention to listen. A collaboration with Nicki Minaj on ‘Skrt On Me’ looked to be a stratospheric team up after her recent work on Katy Pery’s ‘Swish Swish’, Major Lazer’s ‘Run Up’ and David Guetta’s ‘Light My Body Up’. However, the punch we want to make us crank it up isn’t there. Most of the other unreleased tracks are, to be honest, forgettable.
Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is a noble attempt at something different from Calvin Harris. For many, it will succeed in being the soundtrack to summer with it’s chilled vibe but the huge numbers we have grown to love the DJ for just aren’t there. Don’t get us wrong, it’s nice. That’s it though, “nice”.