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Calvin Harris - Funk Wav. Bounces Vol.2 (Album Review)

Monday, 08 August 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

In the 2000s, a genre of compilation albums emerged featuring laid back dance music with titles like ‘Ibiza Lounge’ and ‘Chillout Summer Mix’. To listen to these records was to be transported to a Mediterranean cocktail bar with eye-wateringly expensive drinks and the worst people you are ever likely to meet. Calvin Harris’s ‘Funk Wav. Bounces Vol.2’ is the VIP version of that.

But just how VIP is noteworthy: 20 featured artists appear on 14 tracks with well established A-Listers like Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake and Busta Rhymes rubbing shoulders with younger stars like Dua Lipa, Lil Durk and Jorja Smith.

Harris commands the kind of up-to-the minute rolodex that used to be the domain of Mark Ronson and Timbaland, and while the mixes are pretty seamless and the blend so very smooth, there is a certain hard-edged capitalism just below the surface.

For it feels unlikely that many of the artists were ever in the same room when recording took place, which seems inauthentic on a funk album...and yet...and yet.

Harris does not command a lot of critical acclaim. He is a commercial music producer, creating work that seems to go where the market is. But in his case remote recording is not just a result of scheduling demands—it appears to be his preferred way of working.

The realities of international touring made this style of composition commonplace a long time ago, but it’s hard to think of a composer-producer who presents it as a key feature of the music. The title ‘Funk Wav. Bounces Vol.2’ purposefully packages the songs like a random folder that was living on his computer desktop. In its own way, this gives a very superficial album (and its predecessor) more integrity than its competitors.

The problem is, of course, that the songs aren’t very good. Obsessed (with Charlie Puth and Shenseea) has a sticky piano riff and deft arrangement, and Potion (with Dua Lipa and Young Thug) scratches some Parisian Disco itches that Daft Punk left behind, but ultimately most of the interesting songs run out of musical ideas and end up feeling repetitive. All of which leads you back to that Mediterranean cocktail bar and the conversations you may be forced into there. Good luck...you'll need it.

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