The track-listing on ‘18 Months’ reads like a who’s who of today’s pop juggernauts and it’s an album already boasting a number of chart-topping hits. Ultimately though, it could be this name-checking that discredits Calvin Harris’ natural talent.
The fact that a play-through of ’18 Months’ could probably pass for the latest edition of a ‘Now’ album is both a good and bad thing.
Considering that not even ‘Bounce’ with Kelis isn’t the best song on this album speaks volumes for the quality of Harris’ output. But, of course, that privilege falls upon the mighty ‘We Found Love’, probably (definitely) the best song that Rihanna’s put her voice to, and proof, if any was needed, that this is a guy who can write incredible pop music.
But the reliance on big name vocalists risks Harris being categorised as 'just' a producer. That isn’t so say he should be criticised for writing songs for other people, God knows he’s doing alright out of it, but it’s worth remembering how far he has come on his own steam. ‘Acceptable in the 80s’, ‘I’m Not Alone’ and ‘Ready For The Weekend’ all did well, felt original and are great songs. While the big hitters on Harris’ third album sound great in isolation, put together they can start to sound a bit like music by numbers, and you can’t help feeling that a degree of originality has been compromised to cater to the pop machine.
While dance music of this nature struggles to lend itself to an album structure, here it starts to take on a repetitive quality that doesn’t stand up to what we’ve seen from him before. Where Harris’ previous albums were a welcome antidote to the Euro-pop tinged dance music that appears with unfortunate regularity in the top 10, ’18 Months’ feels like it’s venturing into Guetta territory.
It’s interesting that not so long ago Harris stated that he didn’t want to release albums anymore, something that this album only backs up. There’s very little here to keep you coming back outside of the obvious hit singles.