Thursday 1 October 2015

Review of 'Caracal' by Disclosure

The warm chords are back as found on ‘Hourglass’. And the percussion is still as old skool as before, as evident on ‘Jaded’. This is undoubtedly the same UK EDM bro duo that gave us Settle. But where is the energy? 

If Settle was a roller-coaster then this follow-up album is a teacup ride. You could dance to Settle. You can’t dance to this album. You can barely stroll to it.

Instead of catchy house anthems, Caracal offers a series of slow synth swells that build but never erupt, accompanied by largely forgettable vocal performances.

Considering the star-studded cast of guest singers it doesn’t make much sense. Miguel is on this album. So is The Weeknd. And, oh lordy, so is Lorde!

These are big exciting names that should have provided big exciting vocals. Instead they come across sounding like lifeless and indistinguishable nobodies. Only soul artist Gregory Porter offers any heart into his performance. The rest of the guests sound like they’re only there to pick up their pay cheque.

And maybe money is wholly to blame here. Everyone on this album is coasting on their fame. There are no attempts to do anything vibrant or new. Disclosure’s blend of deep house and garage has always relied on retro ideas, but on Settle it managed to feel fresh. It provided a sweet antidote to the robotic fart music dominating the clubs at the time.

Two years have passed and the EDM landscape has changed. No longer are Disclosure the sole owners of their niche. A hundred copycats have sprung up around them – the like of Shift K3Y and Gorgon City and Duke Dumont – and Disclosure have done nothing to stay ahead of the game and stand out.

Only the funk-flavoured ‘Masterpiece’ and deluxe-version-only semi-trap number ‘Moving Mountains’ try to take a new direction. Otherwise, the Lawrence Brothers seem to just be churning out the same house songs as before, but with less fire in their belly.