Disclosure’s 2013 debut album Settle displayed a keen eye on a stale pool of pop-dance music subgenre’s, roping them all together by slicing and dicing until they came together into what would become the crackly drums and swirling synths that the Lawrence brothers’ club burners they have become known worldwide for.
Cast back to 2013 and Disclosure arrived to the mainstream as a finished product. From their face-sketch iconography to their incredibly instrumented live set up, they built credos and attention through a series of stellar EP’s and low key club dates (the 2012 Reading lineup has them near the bottom) to eventually signing on a major label with a presence and energy to the mainstream pop sphere, shifting the focus of the genre to a EDM oriented sound.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Disclosure, are living in a world that they themselves have helped create. Songs like Latch and White Noise from 2013 are still as popular as ever, and so with this came the decision for the duo to try and extend upon the trend they established or to create something new entirely.
The answer is somewhere in between. There’s no doubting that the ‘disclosure sound’ still remains, but they’ve traded in the more bass-y elements of their oeuvre for R&B crooning, slowing down the pace a little and bringing in singers such as The Weeknd and Kwabs to occupy their luscious sandbox. It’s a strange decision, and the two songs shows represent Carcaral in a nutshell. The Weeknd sung Nocturnal opens up the album with an almost offensively disco beat that doesn’t suit the tone of the song at all. The genre hopping that made the brothers so successful fails them perhaps for the first time here, for almost seven minutes there’s never an assured sense of the sound they are aiming for. Willing & Able, the song which UK up-and-comer Kwabs (Love +War, his debut from a few weeks ago is well worth checking out) features on is the opposite site of the coin. Here we have what feels like a natural progression of the brothers’ sound, lowering the key and elasticising the bass to create a barbed wire textured soul ballad.
Carcaral had a lot to live up to, and in many respects a gruelling two years of touring and constant media presence for Disclosure was only going to encourage them to enforce their canon that has been so successful instead of challenge it and try to potentially disrupt what was so popular. The guests are higher profile here, but the songs feel like at times they were made on less of a budget than their early EP’s. Magnets, for example with Lorde feels like their most immature song yet, the singer not really lighting anything up with a flat beat and a trodden chorus about a breakup. Even some of the better songs on the album such as Hourglass with LIONBABE bring to mind other, better songs such as 2013’s Voices, feeling more like a kind of manufactured version of Disclosure rather than the boys themselves.
For the many fans, this will do. This album will be a definite presence in parties and clubs alike- and rightly so- it is a good record. But in lieu of how the Lawrence’s have set the standard of ingenuity for themselves, not just in Settle but in their interviews and live sets, then it really come as something of an anti-climax to an album that was supposed to mark an evolution rather than stagnation.