CD: Calvin Harris - 18 Months | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Calvin Harris - 18 Months
Mall noise from an obstreperous Scot proves bearable
Pop is a silly business in so many ways, but even so I don't think I ever imagined that when the year 2012 came, the globe's charts would be dominated by a dopey-looking middle-aged Frenchman and a lanky grouch from Dundee. But here we are, with a billion radios blasting a new, ramped up, amped up, obliteratingly popular kind of dance-pop, with David Guetta and Calvin Harris the new overlords, each with megastars on speed-dial.
Where Guetta is the bland enthusiast, never less than 100 percent on-brand, Harris is a cantankerous sod and perpetual square peg, and that's maybe reflected in his music being that crucial bit more interesting. OK, the melody lines are almost comically simple, their one-finger blips lumbering up and down the major scales, and the rhythms rinsed with industrial bleach to remove any last traces of syncopation – but the compression of the sound, while fierce, is vastly subtler than Guetta's all-loud-all-the-time migraine house, and best of all, each song has a character of its own.
“Bounce” with Kelis and the mighty “We Found Love” with Rihanna, both here, are a case in point, the ping-pong melodies somehow addictive, the production full of tweaks and twists that subverts its own blaring, mall-noise aesthetic. There's plenty more that's great: a lumbering “China” with Dizzee Rascal, the sugary fizz and clanging pianos of “I Need Your Love” with Ellie Goulding, the joyfully moronic indie guitar riff of “Feel so Close”, even “Sweet Nothing” with the normally ghastly Florence Welch. There's a lot that total guff too, of course, not least the screeching generic trance blurt of “Drinking from the Bottle” with Tinie Tempah. But unlike Guetta, the sonic variety is enough to make skipping the odd track seem worthwhile – this narky and bloody-minded Scot has, once again, done pretty good.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Sublime, irresistible blend of dance, electro-swing and hot jazz
Japanese jazz-fusion to blow the cobwebs away
New Wave veterans add Country and Western vibes and come up smiling
Bright lights and the shadow of The Beatles at Germany’s prime showcase for new music
Despite the band credit, the classic ‘Now That Everything’s Been Said’ is Carole King’s first solo album
The troubled troubadour returns with a superb album that dances through desperation
Stadium synth bombast that has to be heard to be believed
The return of the erstwhile King of the Slackers, Evan Dando
Diverse and supposedly autobiographical songs end up sounding too similar
Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper talk beginnings, cassettes and hiss
He used to 'torture' maidens on stage, but what is Blackie Lawless up to now?
A new beginning and declaration of rights from Sweden’s sonic voyagers