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Calvin Harris - Motion (Album Review)

Monday, 10 November 2014 Written by Gavin Rees

Calvin Harris is a dance giant, a money-making machine of repute and a DJ whose music is at home ricocheting off the ceilings of clubs, reverberating through the walls of arenas and washing over festival crowds. But when does a winning formula stop working? Is it when two ends meet and we start going around in circles, or when the tills stop ringing?

‘Motion’ is his fourth album, but it’s one that’s a little stuck in its ways. It has to be said that the full-length is not the medium through which his tunes are best experienced, but that’s what we have here. And it’s happy to roll out the go-to moves, with the hook-synth line-drop blueprint enlivened by a cast of guest stars who, at times, make this whole thing look like tremendous fun.

Haim deserve to be the record’s poster girls and their cut, Pray To God, is in a league of its own. Pairing their west coast harmonies and idiosyncratic delivery with Harris’s best melody of the collection, it’s a sure-fire hit.

The same can already be said of Summer, another keeper, while the strings utilised on Love Now, featuring All About She, and Outside, which is topped by Ellie Goulding, provide fresh textures amid the bass thud. Meanwhile, John Newman, somehow, makes Blame work after a horror show intro. Chalk it up to sheer enthusiasm and Harris’s knack for right place, right time momentum.

Elsewhere, though, the going is tough. Gwen Stefani pops up on the insipid Together, Tinashe on the headache-inducing Dollar Signs and Hurts and Alesso on Under Control, which never takes off as it threatens to. Special mention goes to Big Sean, though, who manages to be both misogynistic and forehead-slappingly stupid over a hook that lacks any hint of subtlety on Open Wide.

‘Motion’ does what many Harris fans will want it to. It’s accessible, dancefloor-friendly and packed to the rafters with big names. It’s just that we’ve been here before.

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