Review Summary: I Created Apathy
EDM, in spite of its many plus points (arguable or otherwise), is not famed for presenting works of any depth or progression. The genre is capable of satisfying, but the one-hit-wonders are rife, and longevity appears more attached to status and celebrity than actual output. Calvin Harris is undeniably at the forefront of the scene, and to his credit, early albums I Created Disco
and Ready For The Weekend
showed a promise that put him above the ordinary. Armed with an awkward, geeky persona, and a (potentially ill-advised) predilection for almost deliberately uncool vocal pop efforts amongst the standard club bangers, these two albums were unflinchingly vulnerable yet accomplished, and justified the MySpace hype. Follow-ups 18 Months
showed signs of the quirkiness fading, but were so packed top-to-bottom with hits (12 UK Top 10 singles between the two records), that any loss of character was forgiven or ignored altogether. Then the EDM bubble showed signs of bursting, presenting Harris with a challenge – at this point in his career he’s just simply too cool to go back to his nerdy roots, but his brand of marketable house music was only going to carry him so far – despite the success of follow-up singles such as ‘How Deep Is Your Love’.
Releasing Funk WAV Bounces vol. 1
as a producer-first exploit is an odd move. Harris has enlisted the help of a veritable who’s who of 2017’s hip-hop big-sellers (and Nicki Minaj) to drown out his work with extremely mediocre flows and ill-fitting auto-tuned vocals – please spare me the ‘purple drank’ references. The production itself is solid, but painfully inoffensive. Think 24K Magic being produced by DJ Jazzy Jeff and you’re some way there. That one of the most interesting compositions on offer here comes from a direct interpolation of the main bassline from Earth, Wind and Fire’s ‘Let’s Groove’ (on Katy Perry, Pharrell and Big Sean feature ‘Feels’) speaks volumes for the lack of direction this project possesses. Album highlight ‘Slide’ at least presents a breath of originality, and the blend of smooth Frank Ocean and rough-n-ready Migos is easily the best vocal track on the record. Unfortunately, by placing it first in the track-listing, Harris has shot himself in the foot – top-heavy barely covers it.
The main issue with this record is this: what few ideas exist are spread so thinly amongst an already short run-time, that even by radio-friendly-unit-shifter standards, this project feels so painfully basic that any suggestion that there’s more to this than a cash-grab is gone before it arrives. Even the title is a seeming allusion to works-in-progress, and here it is presented as a full-blown studio release. Funk WAV Bounces vol. 1
is not unpleasant by any stretch, indeed there are a few sparingly presented moments that even approach bliss, and for sure, Harris deserves some kudos for fleeing the S.S EDM – this record will undoubtedly sell by the luxury yacht-load. However, by clinging on to relevance, he has done so at the compromise of everything that made him interesting in the first place. Indeed, should there be a vol. 2
, one would hope it’s waiting in the wings very soon, or Harris’ need to ride popular trends may render it unmarketable for him.
And no-one wants that…