Review Summary: It’s a lonely Friday night. At least I have the funky Scottish beats of a Mr. Calvin Harris to create my own private party.
Calvin Harris’ retro, ironic sound makes me feel part hipster from the British Isles, part electronic nerd. The first five songs, and to a lesser extent the rest of Calvin Harris’ debut CD, I Created Disco, are a fun, inexplicably refreshing return to 80s synth noises and bass heavy funk.
Calvin Harris appeals to me in a number of ways. I immediately fell in love with him through the opening track, “Merrymaking at My Place” due to the simple, yet sharp bass line that runs throughout the song. Throughout the whole CD, Calvin Harris employs a heavy bass-usually synthesized-with a myriad of clever sounds in each song, ranging from spacey to punchy to moody.
I much prefer the songs with vocals to the instrumental tracks. Harris pits his lazy, subpar Scottish voice against various high pitched backing vocals, which makes a great blend of dry mock arrogance and over the top retro cheese.
Excuse me, dance break.
At his best (“The Girls,” “Acceptable in the 80s”), Calvin Harris uses structure as a powerful weapon. The intro of “The Girls,” where Harris toasts all the girls, transitions extremely well into the upbeat verse and chorus, before leading back to the intro with a subtle new layer of keyboards. It makes for a really cool song. Other times, his lack of focus derails the song (“Disco Heat,” “Neon Rocks,” “Electro Man”), the upbeat funk lost.
I Created Disco has a lot going for it: wit, zazz, mediocre but charming lyrics. The CD gets a little repetitive, and it loses the energized focus that made the first half so entertaining. But Calvin Harris, a 24 year old Scottish white boy, has made quite a few funky electronic songs, I look forward to what he does next.
Recommended Tracks: Merrymaking at My Place, This Is the Industry, Girls, I Created Disco