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Album review: Calvin Harris’ latest flows like a summer soundtrack

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Annie Zaleski

Three and a half stars

Calvin Harris Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1

Calvin Harris subscribes to an “it takes a village” concept when putting together solo records. Although he co-writes and produces the music, he turns to a cavalcade of pop, R&B and hip-hop stars to provide the main vocal hooks. In the past, that formula has given his albums a slim margin of error, as songs succeed or fail based on their guests. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is a welcome exception to that rule.

Although anchored by an eye-popping collection of A-listers (to name a few, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Snoop Dogg, Future and Migos) the album has a sturdier foundation and doesn’t sound gimmicky. That’s partly due to its timeless, exuberant source material—laid-back, old-school hip-hop (“Cash Out,” “Holiday”); funky electro (“Prayers Up”); sweltering R&B slow jams (“Faking It”); and grooving reggae-pop (“Feels”)—and its smart arrangements.

Harris structures the record like a DJ mix, so the disparate genres flow together seamlessly, with each guest’s cameo well-placed. Nicki Minaj drops the inimitable line “Ay yo, bring in the blunt, Emily Blunt” on the brisk, dancehall-tinged “Skrt on Me,” while Perry sounds low-key on the appealing “Feels,” as she breezily beckons, “Don’t be afraid to catch feels/Ride drop top and chase thrills.” Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 plays like the perfect soundtrack for convivial summer parties where the drinks are cold and the living is easy.

Tags: Music, Album
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