At time of writing, Calvin Harris is the sixth most streamed artist in the world on Spotify. To put that in perspective, Luis Fonsi – who with the aid of Justin Bieber, is rocking the world with Despacito – ranks third and Ed Sheeran (who is riding high on syrupy love songs) tops the list.
What this essentially illustrates is the ardent mainstream appeal of the affluent Scottish DJ – otherwise known to most millennials as Taylor Swift’s ex.
But that really shouldn’t come as a total surprise. After all, here is an act who, in the not so distant past, kept the airwaves buzzing with infectious – if not, somewhat generic – EDM hits such as This Is What You Came For, Summer and Feel So Close.
One would kind of expect the 33-year-old to stick to his usual template of drop-that bass and synthesised drip drops. But lo and behold, Harris manages to deliver something fresh on his fifth studio effort.
Of course, the insanely catchy beats and star-studded collaborations are still in tow. But what the star producer has successfully done here is impart this 10-track collection with soul, something that eluded his previous albums.
Album opener and lead single Slide features a clever brew of retro nostalgia, contemporary funk and summery fun. In hindsight, you can’t go wrong with Frank Ocean on lead vocals.
The general tone of Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1 is a more chilled out one compared to its predecessors, with Harris navigating his A-list guests through breezy sun-kissed numbers. Think of it as an EDM beach vacation with some of the biggest names in music.
The deliciously tropical Feels brings together Pharrell, Big Sean and Katy Perry in one song and the result is simply magical. Pharrell makes another appearance on Heatstroke, a pool party anthem featuring the funky verses of Young Thug and world-class vocals of Ariana Grande.
Elsewhere, Future and Khalid brings some serious groove on the heads-will-bop Rollin.
Despite the pantheon of A-listers on parade, the record never comes across suffocating.
The noticeable absence of instrumental tracks also helps in making the record more focused in its pursuit of feel-good laidback music.
There are some unfortunate fillers, though, but those little bumps aside, Harris makes a strong case about being a prolific producing force in dance music.
Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1