Eddy Says

Eddy Says: I know it’s only September, but…

By | Published on Monday 14 September 2009

Calvin Harris

The last time I wrote to you professing a deep love for an album was late last year and the album was ‘Walking On A Dream’ by Empire Of The Sun. It was a benchmark record that helped change my life, as my life was changing at the time.

Now, I’m in a more settled place, and I feel compelled, once more, to tell you about an album I strongly believe in and urge you to give a chance. ‘Ready For The Weekend’ by Calvin Harris is the first LP to make me press eject on my car stereo, consigning my Empire album to the side door-pocket (what are those things called anyway?). From now on, every school run, every trip to Morrison’s in Holloway Road, it’s Calvin’s album I dip into. I look forward to long journeys like a kid looking forward to annual camping trip, so I can put it on and sing along to every song, tap out the insanely catchy keyboard hooks on my steering wheel and almost shatter the windows trying to pitch in with those huge diva choruses.

In all seriousness, a second album is the real measure of an artist. You get your whole life to make your debut. It’s successful, you sign, inevitably, to a major, then the pressure starts… and album number two is squeezed out of you so fast it makes your head spin and the results are often catastrophic at worst and lacklustre at best. So many great, I mean really great, debut albums were under-shadowed by their progeny. Tom from Audio Bullys knows that pressure first hand. It’d be interesting to talk to Mike Skinner, who made the debut of the decade, about this.

Then look at Oasis, Radiohead, The Verve who conquered the nineties with their second (or third) albums. I hear Jamie T has really hit his stride on the sophomore album. As for Jacko’s second? Game over.

Calvin’s first album was good, not great, but the second one is next level. At first listen, it’s about the big tunes, the huge hooks, the tunes that make every pair of hands in the club/festival/stadium shoot skyward. But also, interestingly, a depth is apparent, immediately, a richness of sound, a subtlety, a surprising cool-ness. I’m talking about the little things here. That gorgeous tubular sound at the top of ‘You Used To Hold Me’, the chick-aah-chick-aa-kaa sound before the beat kicks in on ‘I’m Not Alone’, the tearful chord change to minor on ‘5iliconeater’, or the looped, textured backing vocal all over ‘Flashback’.

Which reminds me, there are so many potential singles on this album, it’s a veritable ‘Thriller’ for this generation. I count at least eight, maybe even *gasp* nine! There are album tracks here that would be singles by most people’s standards. ‘You Used To Hold Me’ has gone off every single time I’ve dropped it. Single 4, they say. ‘Flashback’ is special, too. Sounds like another number one to me. In fifteen countries simultaneously.

The songwriting, like much of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore’s opus, goes back to that (don’t laugh, this is serious) Def Leppard school of tune-smithery. Why have one chorus when you can have two, or three? Calvin’s verses sound like bridges, his bridges are like other people’s choruses, and his actual choruses are off the scale. It’s a valuable lesson in how to write perfect, addictive, enthralling pop music.

When I first professed my love for this record, on Twitter/Facebook, my old friend, James Delingpole, music reviewer for the Sunday Telegraph pulled me up on it: “But what about track two”, he moaned. “It’s so cheesy, and what about the other cheese on there?”

I got back to him immediately: “Embrace the cheese, James”, I suggested. “It’s a huge record for a huge amount of people, it’s dance music for rock stadiums, throw away all your pretentions of coolness, and abandon your worries about what cool people might think, then listen to it with open arms, trust me, it will pay back dividends”.

He didn’t get back to me, but I duly noted his posting on Facebook not three days later which said: “I am really liking this Calvin Harris album very much”.

The next post on James’s wall, from me, just said one word: “Ha!”

Open your arms, open your heart to this record and you will, I guarantee, find something here that will move you. There is tenderness here beyond the massive tunes, and there is an underlying streak of coolness beneath the mass-market hits.

Calvin’s rise will be stratospheric, and there is no doubt in my mind that he will do what Faithless did, but better, and with more charm, he will headline festivals, sell out enormodromes, and become a British institution.

There you have it. The last rays of summer are still with us and Calvin Harris has the dubious honour of Xfm Remix Album Of The Year.

Hang on a minute. He’s really young. And good looking. And funny. And taller then me. Bastard. Strike all that, I hate him.

Eddy Says from this edition of the CMU Remix Update.