While it isn't showing a totally new side to Calvin Harris' abilities and isn't as arresting as 'Slide,' 'Heatstroke' makes for a very welcome change in its surprisingly successful combination of some sparse ingredients.
2017 is shaping up to be an interesting year for fans of Calvin Harris, the world’s highest-paid DJ. A decade on from the release of his debut album I Created Disco, Harris has announced he’s releasing 10 singles across the year, which definitely can’t be classed as a protracted album release marketing strategy. This technique is reminiscent of Marina And The Diamonds‘ half-year buildup to Froot, where keen fans who pre-ordered her third LP were rewarded with a new track every four weeks. The difference is that Harris could release more or less anything nowadays and it would still enter the top 40.
‘Heatstroke’ is less immediately attention-grabbing than February’s ‘Slide,’ but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually quite refreshing to hear a return to his smoother side after pumping out bangers in what had become his signature style as recently as the latter half of 2016 – see ‘My Way’ and Dizzee Rascal collaboration ‘Hype.’ ‘Heatstroke’ may initially feel pretty ephemeral but after one dedicated listen it becomes a much more gratifying experience, whether the focus of your attentions or otherwise. Harris is really demonstrating the breadth of his musical abilities this year – whereas previous tracks have occasionally felt quite single-minded, here and on ‘Slide’ there is a very pleasing instrumental synthesis across the board.
On a real sunset song that ‘remix’ ‘artists’ will love, also proving slightly unpredictable is the array of artists Harris is working with on this new collection of tracks. Across the space of just two singles, we’ve had contributors as diverse as Migos and Pharrell Williams, who are currently at the polar extremes of the pop spectrum. Both fit adeptly into Harris’ modern vision, though, and how polished each track has come off so far is almost surprising. ‘Heatstroke’ is strong but, coming back to the ‘not an album’ mood, it’s maybe questionable how typical it is for a single. In 2017 it’s perhaps harder than ever to define what that actually means, but amongst a lot of tiresome middle-of-the-road chart entries, it at least makes a change.
‘Heatstroke’ is out now via Columbia