Disclosure brings enjoyable, but risk free second album
DJ duo Disclosure had their big break in 2012 when their remix of Jessie Ware’s ‘Runnin” caught a lot of buzz online. They followed this up with single ‘Latch’, a collaboration with Sam Smith, and from that moment on there was no turning back. ‘White Noise’ with AlunaGeorge and ‘You & Me’ featuring Eliza Doolittle became even bigger hits and their debut album Settle, released in 2013, became a worldwide hit. It’s always hard to follow up such a huge success, but with the release of their sophomore record, Caracal, they prove their popularity did not decline as it entered the UK album charts at the first spot. But is it a success in terms of artistic progression as well?
Let’s start by staying that stylistically, Caracal is not miles away from the sound of Settle, but the way the album is produced is slightly different. Where the first album was quite experimental with instrumental tracks and vocal samples, the second one is more focussed on the featuring artists and most of the songs are build around the vocals. Of course this is not very strange if you manage to get Sam Smith, Lorde, The Weeknd, Miguel and Kwabs all on one record, but at the same time this makes Caracal a bit less adventurous and colored within the lines. In that sense brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence function as producers on this record and not necessarily as DJ’s.
This all might be a bit of a problem for their fans who enjoy their pure house music the best, but for everyone who likes crossovers towards pop, soul and R&B this is still a undeniably strong album. Take for example the epic opener ‘Nocturnal’ with the Weeknd. The track has a delicous layered production that builds up carefully during the 6 minutes it lasts. The combination of the light house and The Weeknd’s sultry vocals is glorious. The track with Kwabs, ‘Willing & Able’ is a little more laidback and the beats work perfectly with his soothing and soulful vocals, bringing the needed emotions. The collabs with Miguel and Gregory Porter are more uptempo and present new terrain for the singers, but it fits both their voices perfectly well.
The most poppy track on the record is ‘Magnets’ with Lorde, but the unusual instrumentation makes it an edgy tune. Lorde sounds engaging and the next minute cold and distant which adds to the tension and slightly mysterious atmosphere of the track. Of course the most obvious hit is the collaboration with Sam Smith, ‘Omen’. This combination has proved to be successful before and although this is not as brilliant as ‘Latch’, it does its job. For New York duo Lion Babe their feature on the Disclosure album could mean their big break as ‘Hourglass’ is another highlight on the record. For promosingle ‘Jaded’, Disclosure’s very own Howard provided vocals and this doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. They might want to do this some more for a next project, just to keep their personal sound alive a little more.
Disclosure’s Caracal is, in any way you put it, a strong record with a lot of exciting productions and strong vocals. It’s a little less experimental and a bit safer than their earlier work, but that is not necesarilly a bad thing. With a big cast of featuring artists and huge tunes, this album is still a delight to listen to.
Must listen: Nocturnal, Magnets, Willing & Able, Hourglass, Jaded