CD Review of I Created Disco by Calvin Harris

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I Created Disco
starstarstarstarno star Label: Almost Gold/Sony BMG
Released: 2007
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With a title like I Created Disco, one could easily get the idea that listening to Calvin Harris is going to be at least marginally fun since, being that young Calvin is a mere 23 years old, disco had already risen and fallen by the time he was born. But Calvin isn’t one to let facts get in the way of a good party.

If one is to believe the biographical information posted on his website, Calvin spent next to nothing making this album. And, since Harris’ MySpace-fueled ascension, none other than Kylie Minogue has tapped him as a collaborator for her next project. Meanwhile, I Created Disco has been gaining traction in the U.K.

Now the party is being unleashed in the States, and party hard is exactly what this disc does right from the start. “Merrymaking at My Place” is little more than a solid, catchy bass line mixed way up front, and a beat that recalls that early part of the ‘80s when new wave sounds were morphing into electropop. Think of Talking Heads around the time of the Speaking in Tongues album (“This Must Be the Place” in particular) and you’ll be on the right track. Add some falsetto vocals in the chorus and some verses about all the people coming over to Calvin’s house and all the things they’re doing there (drinking, smoking, bringing stuff over and taking all sorts of drugs) and the end result is, hands down, the summer party song of 2007, whether the charts say so or not.

Calvin’s also got a thing for colorful clothing, as the disc’s second track, “Colours,” proclaims:

Now I don't care what you dress like
Or what you wear
But please make sure baby
You've got some colours in there

…and the synth riff evokes fond memories of the Human League. Clearly this guy is doing his research.

Even more entertaining is Calvin’s summation of what drove him to create “Colours,” from his online bio: “Chicks who don't wear colours annoy me because there are many wonderful colours in the world -- and those women who are not utilising them make me very upset.”

Two songs in, and there’s a pattern established already, at least for the first half of the album – what you see in the titles is what you can expect to hear in the lyrics (and not too deeply explored either). Because who has time to think too hard when there’s dancing and merrymaking to be had, ‘80s style? Sure, Calvin gets all “The Girls” and likes them in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. But do we necessarily care as we shake our own booties, trying to get our own rocks off?

“It was acceptable in the ‘80s,” Calvin croons on his first charting single of the same name (minus the “It was”). Aside from sound of the track, it’s all up in the air as to what specifically was acceptable then that he may be referencing. And again, who cares?

By the ninth track, the need for lyrics has all but disappeared, and we get to hear Calvin do his pure, unadulterated thing without too much of that tongue-in-cheek, oh-so-hip voice of his taking up the spotlight. There’s some irony in an instrumental titled “I Created Disco” vaguely recalling the synth hook from Gary Numan’s “Cars,” but it still fits the ‘80s theme and again, who cares?

And do the Buggles care that this album’s cover (Calvin’s face behind yellow polka-dotted glasses, and his name spelled out in an ‘80s digital-style font) make him appear to be the third Buggle? Are Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes ready to track this guy down to spearhead a reunion?

The lone detour is a slow jammin’ R&B instrumental called “Love Souvenir,” which makes for a pleasant break before the album closes with an absurd little ditty, sung lounge-style, called “Electro Man.”

The dude clearly does not take himself very seriously and he knows how to have fun with his fixation on early ‘80s dance pop nostalgia. Art it’s not, but I Created Disco is perhaps even better than art. It’s the kind of record one can listen to a hundred times, put it aside to never hear again, and feel no guilt at having listened to it so many times. In other words, it’s the perfect kind of disposable pop.

~Michael Fortes