If you happen to enjoy generic electronic music, then look no further than Calvin Harris’ new album. Even after a two-year wait since his last album, I fail to see what kind of innovations Calvin Harris has made in his work. The music on this album is as forgettable as a David Guetta collaboration.
Harris’ work has recently been graced with a star-studded cast of vocalists. He takes advantage of his celebrity DJ status by recruiting the likes of Gwen Stefani, Ellie Goulding, Big Sean and Tinashe as vocalists. But while it’s rather impressive that he is able to recruit such an ensemble for his album, many of the songs felt like EDM remixes of pop songs. Their vocal styles just don’t match well with the type of music he’s trying to produce.
The music isn’t bad, per se. But it leaves me wanting so much more. Even after listening to the album three times, I could only find a small handful of songs that I would consider somewhat memorable — and a majority of them were because I heard them on the radio too many times. The rest of the album blends into his typical style without much thought given to new techniques or styles.
Perhaps my favorite track out of the album would be “Outside,” which features the vocals of Goulding. The song had good energy the vocals, matched the style well and overall, it was one of the better-produced songs. Although it falls into the typical EDM style, it was more cohesive to listen to and I really enjoyed hearing Goulding’s vocals in this album.
Not surprisingly, given the success of Steve Aoki’s “Delirious” featuring Kid Ink, Harris attempts to mix EDM with hip-hop with his collaboration tracks “Open Wide” and “Dollar Signs,” featuring Big Sean and Tinashe respectively. “Open Wide” isn’t too bad of a mix. I wouldn’t mind listening to this song in a club or at a party; but like many of the other songs on the album, it blends into the background and isn’t really all that memorable. But it does lay the groundwork for other DJs to attempt to bridge hip-hop and EDM together.
“Dollar Signs” was an interesting song to end the album. I really enjoyed hearing Tinashe’s vocals on this track and it had the potential to be a well-produced song. The only problem I had was the ridiculous bass drop that clearly doesn’t match the style of the song at all. I would have expected this track to be produced by an amateur DJ, but not Calvin Harris. The song switches to and from a relatively relaxed beat and builds up to that bothersome drop, then switches back to the moderate tempo. Take out that drop and add some consistency to the song, and this track would have been a great addition to Tinashe’s next album, but it clearly doesn’t belong in “Motion.”
To continue on with songs that don’t belong on this album, his collaboration track “Ecstasy” featuring Hurts, has a beat worthy of a lullaby and follows a relatively fast-paced song in the collection. It is a jarringly bad song that sticks out of the album like a sore thumb. Other tracks along this vein of thought include “Slow Acid” which could fall into the reject pile of “Tron: Legacy’s” soundtrack and “Under Control,” which sounds like a generic EDM track spiced up with a vocalist with an interesting voice.
I simply feel that Harris has reached a comfort zone, and “Motion” is the mediocre byproduct of it all. While the album does have a few decent songs that I wouldn’t mind hearing at the club, it’s nothing to go wild over. Out of the 2014 EDM releases, “Motion” is the Kirkland brand of the bunch so excuse me while I go play some Tritonal and Porter Robinson to cleanse my ears.
Rating: 2.5 stars