The one thing Calvin Harris has going for him is foresight. By naming his last album ’18 months’ – roughly the amount of time the album was in popular circulation – he’s either a fortune teller, or he created an album of annoyingly infectious hooks. It spawned nine top ten singles (the first album in history to do so, surpassing Michael Jackson of all people), has seen success on both sides of the Atlantic, and helped make Harris the highest paid DJ of the last couple of years (even if that’s probably more from production than actual DJing gigs). It’s an unprecedented (some would say unworthy) level of success.
What Calvin Harris doesn’t have is innovation. At all. If David Guetta is largely attributed to the demise of pop music with popularising EDM, then Calvin Harris is his perpetuator. Everything on ‘Motion’ has been heard before. Love Now for instance is an unashamed copy of Clean Bandit, incorporating melodic strings with a clipped beat, whilst Slow Acid is a poor attempt to capture Daft Punk circa their Tron soundtrack. Tracks like Faith and Summer, without featured vocalists, are the same old Harris trite: loud, synthy, wobbly and with as much melodic variety as a bleating alarm clock after a late night of alcohol induced pill-popping in some trashy Essex club. Expect to hear most of ‘Motion’ on TOWIE soon.
Even the collaborators can’t escape the inevitable Harris ‘banger’ chorus. Ellie Goulding has no excuse, considering she’s already duetted with Harris on I Need Your Love; here, Outside is essentially the same track with a different title. Hurts, after the failure of their own second album, are silly enough to feature on two tracks – previous release Under Control and Ecstasy, a song that stands out for its complete lack of drums and provides the perfect opportunity for a mid-album snooze. For rank lyrics, look no further than Big Sean collaboration Open Wide as he questions “open that sh*t wide, let me see how big your mouth is” (annoyingly it probably has the best verse production). As for female vocalists, Harris has recruited some of the best, but smothers them with his own ‘style’. Gwen Stefani should know better than singing on Together; Tinashé provides some soul on the otherwise soulless Dollar Signs (no irony in that title at all); and Haim’s guitars are wasted on Pray to God.
Each of these tracks follows the same structure: evocative verse, pre-chorus build-up, bass drop, EDM wobble. This is taken to extreme on tracks like It Was You and Overdrive – tracks that were made for the club rather than the charts, albeit a really sh*t one.
‘Motion’ is generic. ‘Motion’ is uninventive. ‘Motion’ scrapes the barrel to such an extent the barrel has been torn apart, its contents left in a messy indistinguishable heap on the floor that looks like dried vomit on the streets of Kavos after a particularly heavy episode of ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’. You'd be better off listening to the new Guetta album later this month. Even Avicii is better.
If this ends up delivering number one singles for the next eighteen months, we might as well all just pack up and go home.
* None, they all sound the same anyway.
Listen: 'Motion' is available now.