By this point, Calvin Harris was an EDM superstar and his album prior to the release of Motion, 18 Months, was a huge commercial and artistic success for the now widely known DJ. This is, of course, the follow-up and also received a great deal of attention on the mainstream radio and in some musical areas. Is it worth hearing? Let’s find out here.
We commence with Faith which has a faded melodic intro, before launching into a piano ballad here with some singing. It seems somewhat moodier than previous efforts by the DJ superstar. It quickly launches into a melodic and pounding piece that sounds decent. It’s a good introductory song, and just sounds really melodic and different listening. It may be a pseudo-religious song, but all the same sounds massive and has some large, pounding beats. A good piece of music, but maybe not a great piece of music. It ends softly.
Next is Under Control (feat. Hurts) which begins with some pulsating sounds and features contributions from Alesso and Hurts, although it leaves the former out of the credits here. Some really excellent vocals are for listening, and this piece sounds quite uplifting. It launches into an excellent and melodic piece of vocal-led House music, which is familiar Calvin Harris territory. It sounds wonderful and is very much music designed for the clubs. The lyrics are quite moody, as is the song itself. A good piece, even if at this point, Calvin Harris is struggling to hold form on this album. Good listening nonetheless.
Blame (feat. John Newman) begins with some interesting textures that sound like they were originally created on piano. Another guest appearance makes this piece come very alive. In fact, this is a very big improvement over the previous cuts and paints a different and memorable melody for all to hear. Multitracked vocals here sound magnificent, and this piece definitely comes alive. A really fine piece of craftsmanship, this is a gorgeous and wonderfully melodic tune. A really great listening experience, this is uplifting and awesome. Nice tune. Great to dance along with friends in the club.
Love Now (feat. All About She) begins with interestingly treated textures and some soulful female vocals. This sounds really good and amazing. It quickly launches into a decent EDM piece that sounds really top. It still sounds as fresh and directly amazing as it did upon release. There are some nicely played string sections here as well, which is unusual for most EDM based music. A very powerfully moving piece of music about love-based emotions, this puts a lot of the competition of Calvin Harris to shame. Really excellent sounding music, the string motif makes this an awesome listen. Grand and wonderfully delivered music, this sounds incredibly good. Nice piece of songcraft.
Next is Slow Acid which is a very different sounding instrumental by the main master of music Calvin Harris. It has some excellent and nicely structured textures, Acid heavy sounds and a sense that this is not anything merely like filler. It launches into a very hard Acid sounding groove that must be heard to be experienced, it sounds epic and fantastic. It quickly progresses into an awesome almost harp sounding section, before returning back into this extraordinarily amazing tune and has a sped-up section to take you by surprise, before going back into the Acid groove. Needless to say, this is really decent and amazing listening, even for a lesser track. It ends with some quiet and atonal sounds, including guitar parts. Very nice.
Following is Outside (feat. Ellie Goulding) which begins with a great mixture of 8-bit styled sounds and other textures, whilst Ellie Goulding sings over the top of it all. It then launches into a futuristic piece of music that sounds rather Disco music influenced with some of the sounds in the background. It’s a moving piece of music, and perhaps Calvin Harris was not in a happy mood making this track with some of the lyrics and sounds on this song. It is decent nonetheless and sounds like classic work from the master DJ and Ellie Goulding sings beautifully over it all. A really good piece of music, this sounds really awesome and great, although there is a bit of melancholy about it. Good though.
It Was You is a collaboration effort of Calvin Harris and Firebeatz. It begins with some eastern sounds, moody string sections and a feeling that this is very dark territory compared to previous Calvin Harris efforts. A very dark sounding piece of music, this launches into a dirty pseudo-Dubstep piece that is really punchy and effective. It has many breakdowns, a lot like Trance music in this respect, and sounds melodic and moody. Quite depressing listening, which may put off some fans of the lighter side of EDM, this sounds dark and disturbing. It goes back into the Dubstep section after a fast progression towards the end, before ending with delayed textures. Very different to earlier Calvin Harris works.
Summer is the most popular track from the album. It begins with some strange Disco influenced sounds, some great singing and is very pretty. It quickly launches into a moving piece of EDM craziness and shows that, despite the darker nature of the recording, this sounds amazing as an individual song. The lyrics here are about being in love, and the piano and melodies here really do sound wonderful. A fantastic piece that would sound great if you’ve taken a pill or two at a nightclub or Rave, it is really great and uplifting. A nicely structured and anthemic listen, this is no doubt popular for fans of commercial based EDM. It ends with delayed textures.
Next is Overdrive which features Ummet Ozcan. It is actually a weird sounding piece that has some extensive bass guitar playing in it, along with some interesting textures. Again, this is a lot like Trance music and shows that Calvin Harris perhaps was not in the best state of mind coming into these tunes. One can admire them, but this lacks the consistency and upbeat feel of previous works. Still, it does sound quite cool, with some cut-up vocals and interesting progressions to listen to, but it doesn’t feel that good. It sounds like a loud and typical nightclub piece, although some of the cut-up sound effects on this track are audibly delicious. A cool but rather ordinarily forgettable listen, this could have been reworked. It’s decent for what it is. It ends with some panned percussion, a nice effect here.
After that is Ecstasy (feat. Hurts) which begins with some soft vocals and some soul searching lyrics. If this is a song about being in an ecstatic state, it certainly sounds as though it is a bit too moody for that. It progresses rather slowly, and it honestly sounds lacking. Sadly, this album is a bit of a failure and sounds a bit too negative compared to the previous album. It’s not outright bad, just could have been better. The treated clean electric guitar parts are good, before melodies and glorious singing returns which is very nice. It ends gently.
Pray to God (feat. HAIM) begins with some awful melodies, some soul searching vocals (again) and a song about being at the bottom of everything. It’s a very ordinary song, especially for Calvin Harris’s own standards. It quickly launches into a semi-Coldplay sounding song, which really isn’t necessary or original sounding. Sadly, Calvin Harris did not make the best impression on this album, and it sounds mostly depressing throughout. Good, but definitely not great, this is a big disappointment to listen to. The song sounds merely like an exercise in Calvin Harris’s musical book. There are much better songs about praying to God out there, so seek them out instead. Otherwise, largely a drag.
Open Wide (feat. Big Sean) has some Flo Rida styled textures, some decent Rapping and a minor key melody. It has been played a lot in public, especially at the time and this piece is pretty out there, especially lyrically. Oddly enough, this rather profane statement is one of the better tracks from this album. A good contribution from Big Sean, yet otherwise, it still follows the mould of miserable sounding EDM. Music should be a joy to listen to, sadly, this isn’t. A good piece that has little value long-term.
Next along is Together (feat. Gwen Stefani). It is surprisingly good, and Gwen Stefani (formerly of No Doubt) sings nicely here and shows that Calvin Harris knew very well who to pick onto his music to sing his hits. Still, this song is like anything off Justin Bieber’s Justice and sounds like an ordinary listening experience, despite Gwen Stefani’s passionate performance. In the era of one night stands, this song is about permanent love, a real rarity when in western countries, divorce rates are over 50%. A nice and good statement nonetheless, it sounds like a musical experience that is okay, but not fantastic. It’s okay.
Following is Burnin which is a Calvin Harris and R3HAB effort. It begins with a harder sound and sounds rather exciting for a change. Enough to get one’s headbanging or moving to the music, this is interesting and exciting music. It launches after 808 drum rolls into a groovy and catchy piece of awesome music. It breaks down towards the middle, sounding very different and uplifting, compared to the rest of the album. It builds up and releases in a frenzy, with a straight-ahead and harder EDM feel about it. This is another good instrumental and sounds very fresh. Nice listen, it is a better track from this album.
Dollar Signs (feat. Tinashe) is last on this album. It begins with a lounge groove styled selection of sounds, and Tinashe’s vocals, sounding a lot like Doja Cat. It is explicit and likely needed not to be so. Anyway, it is a good piece of music to conclude the album with, but the talk about money and the feeling that Calvin Harris could have done better will disappoint listeners out there. It seems to rip off Ariana Grande in some ways, too, which isn’t exactly imaginative. The rushing sounds throughout are very interesting, but this sounds like a mixed bag of performance and direction from both artists. It’s okay, but not excellent.
This album is, quite frankly, somewhat of a disappointment to fans of Calvin Harris and EDM alike. Upon listening, it sounds as though Calvin Harris himself was struggling to feel happy in himself and the music he was making on this album. It lacks an anthemic feel of previous music of his. Nonetheless, those who go clubbing may dig these tunes, but most people otherwise will feel that this is not the best he could do. 18 Months is a better album, check out that one instead, rather than this dirge sounding effort.
Depressing and disappointing.
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