Listeners may be eligible for financial compensation upon making it through the lengthy travesty that is Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2.
Not literally, but perhaps they should be. Expectations were high for legendary producer and DJ Calvin Harris after the masterpiece that was 2017’s Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. It was so good that listeners didn’t even bat an eye when he combined the talents of Katy Perry, Pharrell and Big Sean on the stunning track “Feels.”
If anyone knows a good musical collaboration, it’s Calvin Harris. Through and through, he has proven his talent when it comes to creating one-of-a-kind tracks with thoughtful features, which is why Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 is such a disappointment. It sounds quickly thrown together, rife with awkward collaborations and concepts. As Harris’ lovely instrumentals outshine his half-baked features, it makes for a jumbled and poorly executed record.
On the album, there are few songs without a flaw, though 21 Savage’s “New Money” emerges as a shining star. Savage’s low, dreamy vocals and fun raps flow smoothly alongside Harris’ funky beat with electric guitars and a superficial ’80s flare. “Gucci garments, kush smell like armpits,” Savage raps. His lyrics are casually cool and don’t take themselves too seriously, which is consistent with the aesthetic of Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. For an album meant to represent abundance, summer and funk, “New Money” encapsulates it all.
Songs such as “Lean on Me” with Swae Lee and “Ready or Not” with Busta Rhymes almost hit the mark, but there’s something missing in Swae Lee’s stoic verses and Busta Rhymes’ off-beat performance. However, what saves both tracks is Harris’ composed instrumentals — both slower beats, but divine nonetheless.
“New to You” featuring Normani, Tinashe and Offset has the best instrumentals on the album. With a soft string intro, the song jumps into repeated quick beats leading up to Normani’s heavenly vocals. The trio isn’t the worst feature; by far, the song sounds the most put together on the album.
But still, there’s something missing. Perhaps it’s the lack of star power that the first Funk Wav Bounces held. Putting together an album with Migos, Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and Nicki Minaj is nothing short of iconic. Fill in the blanks with Coi Leray, Snoop Dogg and Charlie Puth, and it’s just not the same.
Due in part to the foundation, production and anticipation of its release, the album easily grows on listeners. It’s an okay listen. None of the tracks really throw themselves at the listener as outstanding or one-of-a-kind. There’s also nothing fast-paced about any of the songs, a departure from Harris’ once starlet fist-pumping club days. And even the quicker tracks such as “Stay with Me” featuring Halsey, Justin Timberlake and Pharell sound as if they were made for a “Trolls” movie franchise. It sounds juvenile, and it leaves the listener almost stunned at how much of a let-down it is.
“Potion” with Dua Lipa and Young Thug first seems like it would be a hit. “One Kiss,” Harris’ first collaboration with Lipa, was the song of the summer in 2018. “Potion,” on the other hand, is lackluster. It attempts to replicate what “One Kiss” did and fails at reimagining a groovier tune and Young Thug feels out of place.
A lot of the problem with Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 is its desperation to be so badly what the first volume was. Each of Harris’ records, singles and collaborations have all been stars on their own for their unique disposition. On the other hand, every song on Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 sounds sickly similar to the next.
Harris recently told Zane Lowe in an interview that he lost his “fuck you” juice. Whatever Harris needs to do to get that zest back is necessary. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 misses the mark, and it dully finds itself a dupe in the DJ’s discography.