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
From dawn til dusk: Kieran Hebden's two-track tour of a day proves thoughtful, beautiful
From cloakroom attendant at The Cavern club to national treasure
Positive mental anthems from folk-punk troubadour
Encounters of the classical kind in Tuscany's loveliest garden
Superb-sounding vinyl editions which put their CD counterparts in the shade
The neo-soul queen on charming form on her fifth studio album
Bristolian house don's debut has its tasty moments
Euphoric celebration of dance music let down by strange orchestration and sound issues
Collection of originals and adaptations bears witness to Taylor's understated brilliance
World Music Fest gets muddy but Senegalese and systems folk group shine
Surfing across the global bandwidths at the top world music festival
A muscular psychedelic debut from Portugal that heads straight for the dance-floor