Album review: Calvin Harris's sun-kissed new album is standout

The Scottish DJ teams up with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande for this album, which is an ode to summer

Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 by Clavin Harris Courtesy Columbia
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Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1
Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris's new collection is the sound of an artist rejuvenated.

After taking his brand of stadium-sized EDM - which we will no doubt witness when he performs at du Arena as part of the Abu Dhabi F1 after-race concert series on November 23 - to its nth degree, it is commendable that the 33-year-old Scottish DJ went back to the drawing board to figure out where to go next.

The answer was to create a soundtrack to his favourite summer, which includes plenty of laid-back funk and breezy pop.

What immediately stands out here is how organic it all sounds. Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 brims with live instrumentation; the drums sound warm and supple, there are bobbing bass lines, swirling synth grooves, Nile Rodgers-esque guitars and no auto-tuned vocals.

While the concise 10-song collection (clocking in at around 35 minutes) all feature hip-hop artists, the album is unabashedly pop at heart. In fact, the guests seems to revel in the colourful sonic backdrop they are able to play with.

Slide, featuring crooner Frank Ocean, starts with a blissfully sighing piano line before it kicks into a sweet funk groove.

Heatstroke is simply joyous, with Young Thug and Pharrell Williams exchanging verses before Ariana Grande joins in with a smashing sun-kissed hook.

The leisurely vibe continues in Holiday. In acknowledgment of the track's G-Funk influence, Harris invites none other than its leading purveyor, Snoop Dogg to provide another one of his winning dulcet flows.

The album highlight arrives towards the end. Powered by shimmying riffs recalling Chic, Feels has Williams returning with his strongest vocal performance since Blurred Lines, alongside a dialled down Katy Perry and more smooth rapping from Big Sean.

Where previous efforts had his hooks bludgeoning us to submission, Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 has Harris loosening the reins. In turn, he has managed to create his best album to date.

Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1
Calvin Harris