Ready For The Weekend
out August 18th
Calvin Harris wants to stick to the music, and for good reason. On his sophomore effort, Ready For The Weekend he has a lot to be proud of. The album is thought out, textured, and deserves better than a treatise on 90s handbag house. As Calvin himself says, “There are a huge volume of reviews that aren't even based on the music. They barely say anything about the record.” I do not intend for this to be one of those reviews.
In and of itself, the music on Ready For The Weekend is not bad. In each track there is at least one moment of excitement—an excitement of the sort that makes you want to ratchet up your dance moves to a new and often dangerous level. Unfortunately, the dances best suited for this album take place in the cafeteria of my old middle school. Don’t blame the music though, which is truly not bad, blame it on the vocals.
Somewhere, buried beneath Calvin Harris’ juvenile lyrics and processed voice—lacking authenticity, muscle, subject matter, and the benefit of an advanced rhyming dictionary—there is a potent pop album wanting to come out. Given to the right lead men or women, some of these tracks could have shined.
The album begins with promise. The first 45 seconds of “The Rain” are genuinely inspired, a call to leave your spot next to the punch bowl and approach the dance floor. It seems like the track, and the album, can go anywhere. Maybe some Nomo-like afro-beat funk, maybe some Guillermo Scott Herren A.D.H.D. electronica, maybe some Justin Timberlake/Timbaland dirty pop, either way it is time to dance. And then the singing starts and it becomes all too apparent where we are going… and where we will stay, at least until Dizzee Rascal takes the helm on the no-brainer summer hit “Dance Wiv Me” and reminds some of this early promise. However, for reasons unknown, that particular track is buried in the #13 slot and by then the damage has been done.
It’s not that the album isn’t catchy (try not to get the title track stuck in your head) and it’s not like it lacks range, it’s just that it lakes depth. Even as far as fluff goes, it is unconvincing. At almost every point of this album, I wished I was listening to another vocalist—Kanye, Justin Timberlake, Prince, Beck, Ben Folds, Kylie Minogue, Chris Martin, even the Backstreet Boys. It is a testament to Calvin Harris’ range as a producer that I heard venues for all these other artists, but not good news for the album that they were so sorely missed.
The album ranges across a variety of approaches, each custom built and meticulously crafted to appeal to the dance crowd. There is a reason Harris felt the need to pretend to lose the only existing copy of the album at Heathrow in order to buy some time to finish it. The production is crisp and textured and never dwells too long in one place. Most pop artists would do more than lie about baggage handling problems to get on the finished product. Ultimately though, it is the waste of these tunes that is the real letdown of Ready For The Weekend. After one listen through, the only thing you will be ready for is a remix/collaboration album, or domination of an 8th grade dance.
40-49 — Average. A mixed bag. Not Bad, but not good. (Rating Scale)