As time passes we change; nothing stays constant. Heraclitus once said No man can step in the same river twice; for it is not the same river, nor the same man. The world is in constant flux, my body regenerates its cells as I sit listening to this awful pop-EDM track with the Kafaesque sense of impending danger that the next half of the album is going to be just as mundane as the first.
Disclosure’s first record Settle was a solid debut effort, but served as a warning of what was to come once the Lawrence brothers cracked the mainstream wave and surfed in to the EDM-encompassing ‘big-time’. Change (for the worse) was inevitable.
Disclosure have migrated towards the sort of electronic dance music that they were destined to make. Their early success served as a cursed catalyst for a move from ‘cool young UKG/dance artist’ to mindless, cliché dance-pop with every collaborative artist feature going.
To list a few, artist features include Lorde, Gregory Porter, Miguel, Sam Smith and The Weeknd, the latter speaking volumes of what kind of an album you’re getting. This sell-your-soul-to-the-charts pop album is the UK dance music equivalent of Ice Cube accepting his credible role in the Are We There Yet sequel.
Disclosure’s second album is stripped of the 2-step and house roots evident in their debut effort, and serves a good example of how chart success, label-ties and over-collaborating resulted in an unavoidable change in sound and quality, but there are minor triumphs in Caracal.
Highlights include the Lorde-feature track Magnets, which is well-produced and delivered with an impressive vocal performance from Lorde. Similarly, Hour Glass is brisk, but gives Lion Babe enough time and space to dance over the instrumental with a stop-start singing flow.
An underrated Miguel performance in Good Intentions provides more easy-listening material on an album clearly attempting to appeal to the masses, and not the underground fan base the group have departed from.
An inspiring feature pulling away from the monotony comes in the form of jazz artist Gregory Porter’s vocal efforts on Holding On. This track is probably the closest you’re going to get to the Disclosure of old. It’s a bouncy, 2step-homaged soulful track that makes you want to get on those Air Max 97s and cut shapes with the lads before going for a cheeky Nandos.
I found myself sitting disappointed and angry at all dance music after listening to Caracal. Regrettable thoughts of ‘that’s an hour of your life you’re never going to get back’ ran through my head, before a slight change of heart. The irony is that every hour of your life is an hour you’re never going to get back – and these lads are just enjoying life in the mainstream, so who am I to hate? Caracal delivers playful and well-made production, catchy hooks and chart-hit records with an entertaining list of pop artists. Thanks for not getting David Guetta on the album.