Does anyone remember ‘Spectrum’? Calvin Harris’ remix of a Florence + the Machine song, the perfect upbeat accompaniment to her soaring voice and ethereal outlook. Or ‘Bounce’, the simplistic, catchy tune that really did (in the most embarrassing way imaginable) make me want to bounce about the room. Or even ‘Acceptable in the ‘80s’, his first hit back in 2007 – a track that seemed to effortlessly encapsulate an ‘80s vibe.
And then there are Harris’ latest releases: when ‘Summer’ was suggested to me by a friend as a contender of our holiday song of 2014, I felt that the choice was a depressing indictment of contemporary dance music. Equipped with an uninspiring title and a generic beat, I was just surprised that so many people bothered to listen to the song for it to be even considered as Spotify’s ‘Song of the Summer’.
Equally, his latest single ‘Outside’, featuring Ellie Goulding, is indisputably commercial: a track that lacks experimentation and sounds like a mixture of other, more successful singles.
Released on October 31st, Motion is an album full of such tracks; pleasant, inoffensive and frankly disappointing. Ranging from ‘Dollar Signs’, with its banal lyrics and jarring hooks, to ‘Pray to God’, a song largely carried by HAIM’s lilting vocals, the album feels like a let-down: a compilation manufactured directly for Singles Chart consumption, the sort of indistinguishable songs that you’re happy to listen to in a club but wouldn’t consider otherwise.
Harris seems to rely too much on the talents of his collaborators (which also includes Gwen Stefani), letting his own originality and skill dwindle as a result. The album is redeemed somewhat by the anthemic ‘Blame’, which complements John Newman’s vocals, and the more EDM-orientated tracks, such as ‘Overdrive’, which provide an urgent and pulsating beat that is sadly lacking in most of Harris’ tracks.
Easily digestible and far from exciting, Motion is lacklustre on the first listen and vaguely likable on the second. It’ll probably grow on me by the third listen, but in the meantime: Calvin Harris, could you please go back to creating songs that make me want to dance ridiculously about the room?