ALBUM REVIEW

Calvin Harris showcases summer vibe masterpieces

This summer was a rollercoaster of events for me. From attending community college and experiencing life away from RPI, to working as a martial arts instructor on weeknights, to traveling around Europe on a frantic sightseeing tour, my days were busy. Summer was a hectic adventure, but one with a unified and enthusiastic attitude. That’s the way it should be, that’s the way it always will be, and that’s the way Calvin Harris describes it to be in his latest summer hit album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1.

The album is a very well done wrap-up of everything summer should be: funky, light, and always fresh. Each song is similar in its oldie aesthetic, but each one is separated by a different flavor. Some are more mellow, like “Slide,” featuring Frank Ocean’s mellow voice asking his female friends about their relationships. Others are frantic and needy, like “Skrt On Me,” featuring Nicki Minaj telling her man to either shape up and be better or move on with his life. The change in pacing is important, as it makes each song feel independent and single worthy. It also highlights the various moods of summer, when people go from lounging at a pool to frantically getting to work.

Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 features a diverse cast of artist features, representing the latest figures on the forefront of the music industry. On one hand, listeners are greeted with the familiar flows and ad libs of rap personalities like Travis Scott and Migos, while on the other, they get the smooth vocals of Ariana Grande and Frank Ocean. The album also does a good job of exposing its audience to artists they may not necessarily have heard of. Newcomer Jessie Reyez gets her own solo feature on the album, in contrast to music industry veteran Pharrell Wiliams being one of the three features on a different song.

Instrument-wise, all songs have similar elements, but different final compositions. As I have already touched upon, there is an omnipresent oldie vibe throughout the entire album. Calvin Harris named it “Funk Wav Bounce” for a reason—everything heralds back to the funk and disco era that is making a slow return into mainstream music. In addition to that, most tracks are tied together by the appearance of a slower, melodic piano. With the exception of one or two fast songs, each tune starts off with a few piano notes, or distorted notes that transition into piano later. This serves to bring the individual songs together into a coherent album—one where everything is at least somewhat related.

Overall, I enjoyed Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1. I liked how it provided a soundtrack to my summer, and how it wasn’t aggressively pushing something new into my face. I had come to expect an album of party bangers from Calvin Harris, and this one was a welcome surprise. If the inevitable Funk Wav Bounces Vol.2 is going to create a similar vibe for next summer, then I can hardly wait for school to end.

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