This Disclosure article was written by Zoe Anderson, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Electro-house duo Disclosure have become something of a power house on the UK music scene. Their debut 2013 album ‘Settle’ was met with massive critical acclaim and has propelled brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence forward as a brand, as well as an act.
With a world tour on the horizon, the pair don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. ‘Caracal’ has been a long time coming and has a more retro sound than the aforementioned ‘Settle.’ Tracks like ‘Good Intentions’ and ‘Moving Mountains’ hum with almost 80’s pop/rock synth sound. If you’re a fan or are in any way familiar with Disclosure, you probably already know that they use guest vocalists, a lot. ‘Caracal’ keeps this trend going, featuring vocals from Lourdes, Lion Babe and a reprisal from Sam Smith.
In ‘Settle’ there were frequent guest vocal appearances, but it never felt like they were the bread and butter of the album. Unfortunately ‘Caracal’ fails to completely deliver the punchy, quirky sound that made you come back to ‘Settle’ over and over again. It feels as if the beats were created just to carry the vocals along, rather than complement them.
Despite this, Disclosure have, yet again, done a great job of delivering a crisp, slick sound in ‘Caracal.’ It’s a shame that the beats, bass and synths feel much more safe this time around. The duo have proved before that they can balance strange sounds and solid beats in ‘Carnival,’ their debut in 2011, and it’s a shame that ‘Caracal’ doesn’t have the same quirky edge to it.
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As mentioned previously this album is all about the vocals, which are all extremely strong; in particular those of The Weeknd and Miguel. All of the vocals fit in wonderfully well with the general atmosphere of euphoria that Disclosure create. A kind of 80’s ambient pop sound comes through strongly in the opening track ‘Nocturnal,’ a theme that weaves through the whole of ‘Caracal.’ Indeed, ‘Moving Mountains,’ on the deluxe edition of the album, is certainly one of the most memorable tracks for this reason; it swells with uplifting synths and then drops, unexpectedly into a trappy beat near the end.
‘Caracal’ is well-polished and full very talented vocal performances. At the same time though, the album feels just a little bit empty and lacks the same joyful substance that the duo have supplied in the past. As one of, if not the most profitable dance acts in the UK today, Disclosure appear to be fine tuning their music, rather than embarking on anything too experimental.
If you are a Disclosure fan already then you’ll probably enjoy ‘Caracal,’ but don’t expect it to blow you out of the water in the way that ‘Settle’ did.
‘Caracal’ is out now via Island Records.