If anyone was going to drop the album of summer ’17, it would be Calvin Harris. With three wavy singles that caught fire immediately, Calvin Harris had listeners feeling the summer before it even arrived. “Slide” and “Feels” are ruling the airwaves while “Rollin” has been more quiet, but still banging. But like all artists who drop a bevy of exceptional singles, does Calvin Harris succeed in dropping the summer album of the year or is it a forgettable record with simply the singles to play over and over?
For me, Calvin Harris succeeds in delivering an exceptional album in Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. The masterful recruitment of all-star features takes the album to another level. However, at the base of the song is the funky electronic production that is top-notch and extremely unique to Calvin Harris’ previous work. I’m more impressed by his ability to make the funk- and disco-flavored EDM work perfectly with each featured artist than the featured artists dominating their respective beats. The album is fresh, cohesive, and truly wavy. The title of the album is no ruse; it’s the real thing.
Calvin Harris succeeded in bringing together all-star talent on a record destined to rule the summer unlike DJ Khaled with his Grateful. DJ Khaled’s album was too drawn out with 23 tracks while Harris’ album was concise with 10 tracks. DJ Khaled’s album ended up being 90 percent filler, while Calvin Harris’ album has bangers throughout. In this case, Calvin Harris’ album felt more thought out and intentional, and as a result it exceeds expectations.
Tracks like “Slide”, “Cash Out”, and “Prayers Up” are phenomenal and stand out the most. “Slide” features Frank Ocean and Migos, and it shouldn’t work but it works extremely well. ScHoolboy Q dominates “Cash Out”, flowing smoothly through the verses like a complete boss. PARTYNEXTDOOR and D.R.A.M. ensure that the song is even more catchy. “Prayers Up” is included in some of my favorites because I didn’t expect Travis Scott to kill the track. The track goes and Travis Scott is a big part in why.
Only two songs fell flat for me. “Skrt On Me” is the dancehall track that features Nicki Minaj drenched in autotune. The song isn’t terrible; in fact, I enjoy it. What I don’t enjoy is Nicki Minaj’s voice being buttered up with autotune. As far as I’m concerned, she cannot sing and simply raps. Therefore, I wish Harris’ had recruited someone else for the verses and chorus and let Nicki Minaj simply handle the rapping on the bridge. Literally anyone who could sing without autotune could have carried that track more than Nicki. The second track that I just don’t like at all is the final track “Hard to Love”. It features Jessie Reyez, who I have never heard of before and will not hear more of in the future. The song itself is forgettable and Reyez doesn’t do anything outstanding for the track which is actually has dull production compared to the rest of the album.
Overall, the record is great and will be the soundtrack of the summer. It’s concise, cohesive, and catchy, and showcases Calvin’s forward approach to EDM and the potential of collaborations being done right. Calvin Harris understands that the only way to move EDM forward is to blend it with other influences such as the 80s and modern rap and pop. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is funky, wavy, bouncy, and will be on repeat throughout the summer.
Top vybes: “Slide”, “Cash Out”, “Rollin”, “Prayers Up”
Not vybes: “Hard to Love”
For those who vybe to: anything on Top 40 radio