There haven’t been many album releases that have truly excited me this year. Sure, I was excited for new Mariah music, but other than that it’s been a bit of a lackluster year for new releases. My reactions have been very lukewarm, even though I enjoy some of the artists and album, my feelings have been like “eh a new Coldplay album… I guess I’ll get it. New Shakira, Why not!?”. Nothing like how excited I’d be for a new Rihanna or Kanye release.
All of that to say, maybe I felt the need to get excited about something as the year comes to a close. So I got really excited when I heard that Calvin Harris was releasing his fourth album “Motion”, which was released earlier today. I enjoy his EDM style, and his last album “18 Months” was a Cardio favorite of mine, and ultimately a good collection of his DJ and Production style. Another thing that excited me about the release of “Motion” was that other than Disclosure’s “Settle”, there’s been a lack of good Dance music this year, so I was hoping Harris to fill that high energy void.
Fortunately my expectations were met and Harris delivered with this album, it not only has all the energy and Dance flare I needed, but there’s some really great production with a sign of growth from the DJ/Producer. Maybe I am so pleased with the album because there is a narrow window of quality I expect from a Artist/DJ/Producer like him. Like David Guetta, they both have such distinct sounds that you already know what you are going to get before you hear the first song. Calvin Harris has become famous for really dense dance tracks, with repetitive keyboard sequences and undeniably infectious beat-drops (a la the mega hit “We Found Love” with Rihanna). The singles leading up to the release of “Motion” fell within that mold and the album has a lot of that same sound, but there are some nice variations.
Songs like “Blame” with John Newman on vocals, the hit “Summer”, and “Outside” with Ellie Goulding, for example, give us that familiar Calvin Harris sound, and we love it because it makes us want to dance and the bpm’s keep us energized and smiling. Harris takes a bit of a turn on songs like “Slow Acid”, which is similar to the digitized randomness of Daft Punk’s “Derezzed” but… *gasp a lot better. “Ecstacy” is almost a ballad, with a very mellow and romantic vibe. Even “Love Now” with All About She has more intricate production ticks and effects layered in.
Though most of the album is slightly predictable, but still incredibly fun and addictive, Harris does show some growth as a producer. And his guest vocalists do a great job of complimenting his work. Gwen Stefani sounds great on “Together”, displaying a new depth to her voice over the Pop/Dance sound (hopefully he has at least one production on her upcoming solo album). All About She works “Love Now” to perfection, as does John Newman on probably my favorite cut (and current single) “Blame”, and I was shocked to hear Big Sean flow so nicely over “Open Wide”.
In comparison to “18 Months”, “Motion” flows a lot better overall. That previous album was fun, but a little too all over the place, while “Motion” feels less like a compilation of singles and more of a complete album.
There aren’t any releases slated before the years end that I’m excited about, I’m at least happy that Harris did not disappoint with this album. “Motion” has some flaws, but overall it’s a very pleasing album with a good diversity of emotions and moods and fun.
Grade: B+ Best: “Blame”, “Faith”, “It Was You”