Calvin Harris - Ready for the Weekend
Midweek predictions suggest self-titled creator of disco Calvin Harris will likely smash it in the album charts this weekend. Having entered a new stratosphere of superstar, thanks to last year's team-up with King Dizzee, the hotshot Scot's second album follows knob-twiddling requests from A-list pop hotties Lady GaGa and Katy Perry. He's already done the deed with Kylie, so one could forgive him for giving into temptation and getting comfy in the producer's chair. However, with Ready for the Weekend, he's putting back on those - admittedly silly - fly-eye glasses and firmly stating his own pop star intentions.
One of the biggest surprises to shake this year's singles chart is still the way I'm Not Alone morphs from angsty Joseph Arthur-alike vocal into a dancefloor anthem Faithless would be proud of. 'Anthem' is the operative word, with Harris reportedly trying to fashion a sound he calls 'stadium dance'; while ...Weekend's boldest moments are marred by more disposable tracks, you can certainly imagine punters stuck with cheap-seats at the 02 grooving just as hard to Harris's bubbly dance. Opener The Rain throws in klaxons, manipulated vocals and even unashamed sax noodling atop the layers of synths and beats, and if you've got a problem with that, you critics and cynics, Harris has only this to say: 'Put on a smile and it'll be alright.' Okay, Calvin, we'll get on our new dancing shoes, same as that house diva bawling away on the new camp-as single, and take your advice.
While Harris won't win any awards for subtlety of technique, his second attempt at dancefloor glory is undoubtedly bolder than his debut, which wore thin after a few spins. I'm Not Alone's more thoughtful approach leads the way for the slick monochrome of You Used to Hold Me, while a readiness to experiment is also felt on Worst Day, which pairs the guitar from God Put a Smile Upon Your Face with a decidedly N.E.R.D. vibe. Sadly, Blue fudges the lead single's blueprint, its acoustic outpouring intro and later electric guitars (probably liberated from a synth, mind) trying too hard for a dance/rock crossover. Meanwhile, the blissed-out Burns Night and Air vs. Mirwais ambience of 5iliconeator are perfectly fine instrumentals but really jar with the rest of Calvin's dancefloor fodder.
And that dancefloor fodder is great for what it is; I don't mean it to sound derogatory and, having accidentally caught Harris live last year at V and enjoying it a lot more than I expected, there's certainly a place for what naysayers might term his 'dance-lite'. It's still preferable to the utter stinkbombs Basshunter and Cascada get away with and, although Dance Wiv Me is included here as a bonus track (did I hear someone say 'safety net'?), it possibly sounds even better than it did 12 months ago. Sure, Relax (sadly, not a Frankie Goes to Hollywood cover) and vocoder-raping Limits are perfunctory, but there are enough highlights to soundtrack the titular weekend. Take the cosmos-funk party vibe of Stars Come Out, which recalls early Basement Jaxx, or the euphoric Flashback, which takes an old-skool rave piano build-up and a chorus delivered by a femme-bot - it's gotta be the next single, surely? I won't know if it translates to a live setting, probably ducking out of his appearances at V this weekend - however, I do know that if I mistakenly stumble upon his set again, there's a 99% chance I won't be disappointed.