Album Review: Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Singer, songwriter, and electro- house/ synth pop producer Calvin Harris tosses his Scotland pipes aside and offers us fifteen tracks of incredibly saturated mainstream influence on his newest LP titled 18 Months. His most star studded affair that welcomes the likes of Rihanna, Ellie Goulding, Florence Welch, and even a track with moombahton legend, Dillon Francis.
Of the fifteen tracks, there are only three that contain his own vocals, which alone stunned us all, as we were told back when he finished his “Ready For The Weekend” tour in mid-2010, that he would be putting them to rest.
In a recent interview with MTV News, Harris expressed the reasoning for the titles name, “It was a mixture between 18 months studio time and gigs and also it was kind of a point when I stopped performing in a certain way with a band and singing all the time and… just focused on production and DJing. So it made sense to draw that line there and it just happened to be 18 months before I finished the album.”
The beginning number, Green Valley, is a track that nonchalantly says, “Hey, I’m back, did you miss me?”. Besides offering a few simple bass guitar licks, and spacey, atmospheric keyboard melodies, it serves as a nice transition from a simple hello, to a more confident, and care free “Bounce”.
Bounce was released as 18 Months first single back in June, and has always had a buzzing quality about it. The vocals are sung by Dance-Pop artist Kelis, and are sung in a way that sounds almost like she’s complaining but in fact she’s enjoying her post-breakup party weekend, and clearly doesn’t care about anything.
We move to, well you might have heard of it, a little track called Feel So Close? This song took over the radio for months and still remains to be one of Harris’s best and memorable productions. Especially after stating that he may not sing anymore, this may be the last time we hear him featured on a whole track.
We Found Love may be just another reason for Rihanna to justify her love life. I found her vocals to be very annoying and only made Calvin’s production seem under appreciated. Had Calvin found, possibly another singer, the track could’ve had a more surprising and lasting buildup.
Track number five, We’ll Be Coming Back, features lyrics by English pal, Example, and starts off with an old style south western vibe I didn’t expect. The vocal change was nice to hear, although at certain moments throughout the song I wondered if Example was going country.
In his sixth track, we arrive at a small segue. Mansion introduces some prolonged growling wobbles near the end that are relevant to the sounds heard in Iron and is a nice track that precedes the heavy hitter.
Iron is a dark and generously spacey, house wobble fest. There’s even a surprise appearance by Calvin himself singing his aching heart out once more.
Things calm down just a smidge as the eighth track on the album, I Need Your Love reveals a very confused and emotional Ellie Goulding. Synthy water drop bass effects flow in and out of the song and I will admit, I found Ellie’s voice fitting for the piece.
Tinie Tempah visits the all star party in Drinking From The Bottle, a reminder of success and staying young enough to party.
In Sweet Nothing, Calvin’s latest single, Florence Welch adds her take on the vocals and sings alongside an array of jumping electro dips. This type of accomplishment makes me wonder how its possible for Welch to continue to surprise us.
There is not much to be said of School, although it is very funky and reminds me of a bit Koan Sound would use in their production.
Over a very muddy sounding bass, English rapper Dizzee Rascal takes the microphone and delivers a monster of a track. With the help of Dillon Francis, we get a small dose of Chinese influence and keeps the track balanced with Dizzee’s rapping.
Let’s Go, featuring Ne-Yo is the albums biggest letdown. I feel like this track is way behind in current production trends. The song has been made a thousand times, but it seems to me, Calvin took the easy way out.
Awooga acts as Calvin’s last hooray! After a depressing Ne-Yo collaboration, Awooga jumps on the beat and repeatedly fires its arcade friendly, 8 bit synths.
Closing off our A list fiasco, aside from my personal favorites, Green Valley, Iron and Here 2 China we land on a track which features an up and coming singer known by Ayah Marah. The track is a nice closer and isn’t too heavy, nor to slow, however the only noteworthy element would be Calvin’s use of the piano. His piano melody ties in seamlessly with Ayah’s vocals and have us wandering where she is going next. We may hear of some possible collaborations in the future, but overall the album had its highs and lows. Unfortunately most of the singles released have already ran their course.