Calvin Harris’ ‘Motion’: Review Revue

Bradley Stern | November 4, 2014 2:26 pm

From his thunderous summer anthem (“Summer”) to the guilt-ridden collaboration “Blame” with John Newman to that devastating break-up banger with Ellie Goulding (“Outside”), UK dance floor titan Calvin Harris has successfully kept us dancing through the year — all the way up to the release of his new studio album, Motion, which is officially out today in the US.

Here at Idolator, we didn’t find the LP to be Calvin’s strongest set to date. Did the other music critics around the world find anything worth blaming Calvin about? Find out what everyone had to say after the jump.

:: Newsday gave the album a B+, praising Calvin’s signature sound: “Harris already has had a Top 10 hit with the chugging “Summer,” but there’s way more on deck. Ellie Goulding lightens the mood on “Outside,” while Haim’s playful vocals make “Pray to God” special. Big Sean’s rhymes give “Open Wide” a surprising twist, but Harris’ arrangements keep it clear that he’s still in charge.”

:: Billboard enjoyed some of the album’s sparklier moments, but ultimately found the dance floor titan playing it safe, giving the album 3 out of 5 stars: “The album is, by and large, low-hanging fruit, leaning more on anthemic choruses than groundbreaking beatwork. It’s carried by an all-star lineup of “it” girls including Haim (“Pray to God”), Goulding (“Outside”), Tinashe (“Dollar Signs”) and Gwen Stefani (“Together”) singing on play-it-safe, radio-ready cuts filled with the expected drops and shiny synth hooks.”

:: TIME agreed, insisting that Calvin works best when he deviates from standard style: “…It’s telling that the album’s most entertaining tracks aren’t necessarily the most upbeat nor the most radio-friendly nor even the most star-studded; a few of them are actually instrumentals. Harris gets by with a little help from his friends, no doubt about it, but he still has the best results when he strays from the sounds and styles he’s known for, big names or not.”

:: USA Today named Motion their Album Of The Week, giving it 3 out of 4 stars: “…Establishing a wider audience can mean providing more of a human element, often by teaming with artists who bring distinct personalities into the mix. That’s what the Scottish singer/songwriter/DJ/producer Calvin Harris continues to do, to mostly engaging effect.”

:: The LA Times took issue with Calvin’s “Jock Jams” style uptempo cuts, giving the album 2 out of 4 stars: “For all the intensity he delivers on Motion, Harris is best — and most easily distinguished from peers such as Zedd and David Guetta — when he dials down the jock-jam vibe, as in ‘Love Now,’ a shimmering disco-soul cut featuring the London trio All About She, and ‘Ecstasy,’ with swooning vocals by Theo Hutchcraft of Hurts.”

:: And finally, Digital Spy gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, suggesting the strength of each song depended on the collaborators at hand: “It’s a cannily chosen cast of collaborators who bring the soul and the energy, and the album lifts and falls according to the quality of their contributions. Which isn’t to downplay Harris’s role – it’s also down to the space he gives his guests and the way he bends to their strengths.”

What do you think of Motion? Sound off in the comments below.