Sunday, August 16, 2009

Album Review: Calvin Harris - Ready for the Weekend (3.5 / 5)

To think Calvin Harris' style of music acquires some kind of calculated preferences would be wrong. Harris' last album, I Created Disco, I in fact liked a lot, plugged with amoebic melodies which then morph into massive synth supported and heavy bassline backed house influenced numbers--that same blueprint is used for the new album, Ready for the Weekend, which almost automatically makes it a decent follow up and whilst I'm not completely won over, the good points are: The lyrical content is deeper, the melodies seem more complex whilst not completely abandoning the element of fun which makes this album a real party record.

Opening the album is "The Rain" a heavily synth adjusted number, featuring random bleeps and beeps and a haunting organ. I like the distortion of Harris' vocal on the chorus, it's sounds really cool. Next up is the title track "Ready for the Weekend" compact with synth chords and drums--all contributing to that fresh eery feel, the song also features vocals from British singer, Mary Pearce who for Chaka Khan, Beverley Knight and Lionel Richie, she definitely puts in a very good vocal on the chorus. The song is set to be the albums second single.

Whilst I do like the album for the most part, the reason I'm not completely psyched about it is because I don't think it's as consistent as, I Created Disco, although some of my friends seem to think otherwise. Highlights are scattered throughout the piece and in between tracks that don't necessarily click as well as others. One of the instant winners was "Stars Come Out" a nicely composed upbeat synth coated number, which included a great melodic R&B kick in the chorus--which works well as the verses sound hardline electro-pop--you can't help but notice the contrast.

The more stripped down "Worst Day" is another one I really like, It's found towards the middle of the album. It incorporates rapid hand claps and faint synth. It also has a killer chorus. The energetic "Flashback" is another favorite, Harris sounds great on here. Surprisingly is a moment of experiment on here, the leisurely 2 minute instrumental "Burns Night" is a great moment--it wouldn't sound out of place if it sound itself on a Coldplay album.

Now, onto the tracks that aren't necessarily bad but don't seem to catch on as well as others. "You Use to Hold Me" is a great catchy track for the summer--with a trance like chorus, which features repetition of its name, it does sound a bit samey. "Blue" goes for the all round electronic feel, featuring persistent alienatic bleeps which begin to annoy. It also features a lot of starting and stopping which I don't quite fancy. "Relax" seems to lack a good melody to get hooked on. The hevily auto-tuned "Limits" could be a grower but for the meantime isn't anything special.

More tracks I like is the '70s disco influenced "Yeah Yeah Yeah La La La" which has a distinctive Prince feel and possibly the biggest highlight on the album; the #1 hit, lead single "I'm Not Alone" a fresh and contemporary club channled number. The album closes with the haunting piano laced "5iliconeator." It seems Harris just couldn't avoid adding the odd bleep here and there, I guess to keep that electronic feeling goining.

Saying, Ready for the Weekend, is an underwhelming album would be very harsh. It's actually not a bad piece of work. For the moment I'd like to say the tracks I'm not that into could be indeed growers, especially "Limits" and maybe "Relax" but the for the most part, Ready for the Weekend, is a decent follow up to, I Created Disco.

Best: I'm Not Alone, Ready for the Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeah La La La, Worst Day, Stars Come Out, Burns Night

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