Calvin Harris, Funk Wav Bounces Vol 2, review: The superstar DJ forgets to turn up to his own party

Scotland’s one-time premier party-starter, Calvin Harris has recently done the musical equivalent of moving out of the big city and settling down in the ’burbs. He’s done that physically, too – if you follow his Instagram, you’ll see very little of the nightlife he has soundtracked and more of his dog, some sheep, freshly harvested carrots and a large interesting mushroom he found.

It is very much the style of a man more interested in the party’s afters than the party itself, and Funk Wav Bounces Vol 2 is the soundtrack. Yes, there is also a Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1 from way back in the before times (2017), but he has not moved on much from then despite the whole world completely changing in those five years.

Vol 2 is perhaps a little more energetic, but not much. The meticulously engineered music plays host to a range of voices – from relative newcomers (Latto, Chloe Bailey, Jorja Smith) to the established old-guard (Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Pharrell).

Dua Lipa sings an absolutely atrocious set of lyrics on the cringe-worthy “Potion” (“Late night conversations, electric emotions sprinkled with a little bit of sex, and it’s a potion” – I think I’ll pass on the sprinkle of sex, cheers).

This record is all winding basslines and muted guitar hits, and the guests very much take centre stage. It is an easy, if ignorable, listen. Even as the bolshy Stefflon Don puts her all into “Woman of the Year”, her vocals are held back, dropped in the mix and left to drown.

Moments do break through, such as the catchy summer anthem “Obsessed” (featuring Charlie Puth and dancehall singer Shenseea), not because it is particularly good but because it offers some actual bounce. There are some savvy choices – pairing Normani and Tinashe on “New To You”, buffeted by urgent, chasing strings, for example – but mostly, the music is a big shrug.

Harris has created a canvas for others to paint on, in much the same way that latter-day Daft Punk do – the difference is that the canvas of Funk Wav Bounces Vol 2 is just… quite dull.


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