I love when an album lives up to its title. Like when you see the title and hear the music, it all makes sense. That’s exactly how I felt while listening to the newest offering from Calvin Harris, Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1, out now. Each of the 10 tracks sound like modern funk with a touch of disco— they all bounce along easily as a who’s who roster of guest artists put their own spin on bass-heavy songs about sex, fun, and feels. I suspect that this album won’t be what everyone came for (see what I did there) because it is certainly a departure from the more electronic sounds he’s given us in the past. If you’re looking for another “We Found Love” or “How Deep Is Your Love,” you’re listening to the wrong album, but it’s a solid effort with a clear theme just in time for the 4th of July, so I’m into it.
Calvin has spent 2017 slowly releasing tracks from this project. We first got “Slide” with Frank Ocean and Migos followed by “Heatstroke” with Pharrell, Ariana Grande, and Young Thug, “Rollin” with Future and Khalid, and “Feels,” also featuring Pharrell alongside Katy Perry and Big Sean. None of the songs had a huge showing in the Hot 100, but they did make it onto many a playlist this year and have seen plenty of success on streaming platforms. One song in particular entered the zeitgeist when Migos used their Frank Ocean collaboration, “Slide,” as proof that they’re not homophobic after coming under fire for alleged inappropriate comments against gays. Hmm.
Anyway! For me, the centerpiece of the record, and the soundtrack to my holiday weekend, is Nicki Minaj’s solo track, “Skrt On Me.” For starters, “skrt” means to pull up on someone. Rap songs often say “skrt skrt!” as a vocalization of tires screeching, so I’m assuming that Nicki’s asking her lover to come pick her up, but how much ya wanna bet that people think she’s saying “Squirt On Me”? I know that this year we’ve gotten a lot of… Like, maybe too many… Nicki features, and I’ve found the majority of them to be mediocre at best. I haven’t even been compelled to write about them lately because they’re just so blah. But finally we’ve gotten a track that redeems her. “Skrt On Me” sounds a bit like a Nicki version of Drake’s “Passionfruit“— tropical, breezy, sexy. With autotuned vocals and a rap bridge that a) mercifully contains no references to you-know-who, and b) showcases the precision of her cadence and flow, the song could be a real hit if given the correct single and video treatment. I also give her points for shouting out Emily Blunt during her rap.
The two other standout tracks for me are “Holiday” with Snoop Dogg, John Legend, and Takeoff, and “Faking It” with Kehalni and Lil Yachty. Kehlani remains severely underrated (have you heard her album? It’s great), and I’m always going to be a fan of John Legend’s voice.
Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1 is out now everywhere, with Vol.2 scheduled to be released later this year. Go listen, release, let go, and have a good time.