With 18 Months, we see popular Scot, Calvin Harris, make his leap into the mainstream, following two hugely successful LP’s, 2007′s I Created Disco and 2009′s Ready For The Weekend. Both albums were big overseas, but only gained cult status here in the U.S. Calvin’s brand of whimsical, quirky, 80′s-pop infused dance tunes made for two insanely listenable LP’s, despite never being big over here. But Calvin’s had quite a year-and-a-half over the last 18 Months, as new album title suggests, finally breaking through to the mainstream U.S. audience, thanks to a little song called “We Found Love” with Rihanna, a spark plug that set off a powder keg of hits to follow.
As he has stated in interviews, “Feels So Close” was actually released before “We Found Love”, yet the runaway success of Rihanna’s hopeless love song helped propel “Feels So Close” into a chart-topping single of it’s own, long after it’s initial release. This was huge for Harris, because it also featured him singing the vocals, rather than a stateside star, instantly making him a household name. Yet for many, Calvin at the microphone’s helm is nothing new, and for longtime fans, it is preferred. We do get that side of Harris on one other track from 18 Months, his excellent collabo with Nicky Romero, “Iron”, yet many of the other songs are handled by guest vocalists.
But while brainwashed followers may sneer at the extensive guest list, it’s very hard to argue with the amount of great records – and hits – that the man has churned out over the last year. There was a time when “We Found Love” was looked at as the pinnacle of his career, yet “Sweet Nothing” with Florence Welch takes his sound to entirely new level, as Flo belts out the notes with perfection, suggesting this could sail far past his Rihanna collaboration. And we can’t forget summer smash “Let’s Go”, with Ne-Yo, that came out of nowhere like a bat from hell, or last year’s “Bounce” with Kelis, that toyed with her very public divorce to Nas. While the weight of “older” material keeps 18 Months light on surprises, it’s not without it’s future hits, such as the Ellie Goulding propelled “I Need Your Love”, which is primed to be the next radio ready single.
Among the new material, there are a few shorter, instrumental tracks that act as interludes, such as the “Green Valley” intro, the 303 driven “Mansion”, and the funky “School”, the latter which is vintage Calvin Harris. These songs suggest that Calvin may have had plans to turn them into bigger, longer vocal edits, but his relentless touring schedule reduced them to sketches. Meanwhile, UK grimecee’s Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah appear on “Here To China” and “Drinking From The Bottle”, respectively, yet neither track seem to reach the olympian heights of the album’s previously released material. The closing track, “Thinking About You” with Ayah Marar, is another new addition, filling in the gaps.
18 Months is a very strong release from Calvin Harris, and years from now, the timing of the multiple single releases will not matter, as fans will rather fondly reflect on the handful of classic cuts captured on this record. While Calvin’s vocals are missed, the level of quality he is producing at speaks for itself, whether from his mouth or someone else’s.
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