Acceptable in the '00s

Some critics just don't get it. Or maybe they just don't get it enough. 'Cause if they did, they wouldn't get miffed about Calvin Harris's sexy two-step. Sure, the cat swings with more than a little LCD Soundsystem; yes, his debt to fellow Scotsman Mylo is self-evident; and he'd undoubtedly be right at home onstage with the Scissor Sisters. But so what? He's making dance music, dingbats. And the best dance music is always a confection of sweet beats from every shelf in the sugar shop. So forget what you heard about who Calvin sounds like and instead revel in where he is right now.

And that means all over the dance floor. His first single, "Acceptable in the 80s," has got them going on both sides of the pond. It's a treat of a track, really — all brightness and light, and its insistence on dancing away whatever one might or might not remember is both implicit and applied.

Not that Harris makes it easy to forget the era. In addition to the love "Acceptable" shows for those born way back then, the clip for his second single, "Girls," pays campy-cool homage to Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible." The song "Colours" rips its refrain straight from Visage's "Fade to Grey," and "Merrymaking at My Place" brings all of that wild-eyed decade's hedonism right home where it belongs, even if it does happen to be the home of Felix da Housecat.

But don't think for a second that Harris is merely some throwback act content to bleed dry a past he never was a part of. His remix of the Ting Tings' "Great DJ" is so up-to-the-minute it'll have you skipping the seconds to catch up, and his production of Kylie Minogue almost makes it seem as if Stock Aitken and Waterman never existed. And lest you indie-pop kids think he's not cool enough for you, check out the Editors' cover of "Acceptable" and then think again.

In fact Calvin Harris always claimed his one true goal was to get the indie kids to dance. And whether the critics admit it, he's where beatitude comes from, and that means more than they'll ever know. After all, his album is called I Created Disco.

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John Hood