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Disclosure - Caracal (Album Review)

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

If there's one thing that has defined British music since the dawn of the millennium, it's gifted young bands' inability to recapture the magic of their first record on subsequent releases. Disclosure might not even count as a band - they're perhaps closer to a production duo - but their debut album, ‘Settle’, immediately presented the Lawrence brothers as unlikely rock stars.

‘Settle’ was exciting for many reasons. It had compositional depth, even with its stock reliance on chart vocalists to provide hooks, while their revival of deep house production felt tasteful and authentic, presenting a modernised post-garage spin on the style. The catchy dance-pop singles, too, weren't built around the boring “build and drop” patterns utilised by their peers.

With that in mind, its follow-up, ‘Caracal’, is something of a disappointment, and not in a “success has gone to their heads” sort of way.

The Lawrence brothers haven't become tacky overnight and most of the integrative features from the first record are still here, from the wobbly bass grooves to the clappy snares to the rich-sounding synth lines.

It's easier to pinpoint what Disclosure have lost rather than what they've maintained, though. Many of the tracks here, from Omen to the aptly named Jaded, boast the same slow-burning build-ups and chord progressions.

Again, it sounds classy and well put together, but you don't get the same sense of tension or drama. Remember the euphoria you felt as Aluna Francis screeched her way into the bridge of White Noise? There isn't much of that here.

Disclosure do achieve a certain aesthetic on this record. There are occasional hints that they want to ride the disco-inspired synth wave that has swept the mainstream in the past couple of years. The Balearic touches of Hourglass and Superego actually manage to add a new flavour to their retro house approach, and they pull it off gorgeously.

These tracks' respective vocalists, Lion Babe and Nao, also manage to add that dash of sparkle to what are still distinctly Disclosure songs. On many other tracks though, there's a sense that the guest singers are more than just a sideshow. The Weeknd, Miguel and Gregory Porter feel more like stars who've had their original cuts remixed, considering the beige instrumentals.

It was inevitable that the Lawrence brothers would feel weary of the sound that they first rolled with, but their attempts to avoid “second album syndrome” have caused them to recoil into the background and take less risks. Nothing here is outright bad – in fact, ‘Caracal’ is one of the better mainstream dance records of the year – but it doesn't reach the high standards that Disclosure have set for themselves.

Disclosure Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu November 26 2015 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Sat November 28 2015 - MANCHESTER Central
Tue December 01 2015 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Wed December 02 2015 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Thu December 03 2015 - LONDON Alexandra Palace

Click here to compare & buy Disclosure Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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