“Caracal” is the second studio album by British Dance Duo Disclosure.
Having been a big fan of their debut “Settle” big things were expected of this follow up set and on most part they deliver without moving outside of their comfort zone.
At times you can be cynical and think that they just needed some more material for their live shows and that “Caracal” isn’t really the creative force that it should have been but the fact is Disclosure make really good dance music. The influences taken from 90’s house and Garage mixed with some solid guest spots (some well known, some not so much) work on the whole.
There are plenty of guests on this album as expected although whilst comparisons to the debut are a little lazy and perhaps unfair there are few that live up to what we were treated to on “Settle”.
One of the more well known guests on the album is The Weeknd who kicks off the set with vocals on the track “Nocturnal”. This track is a little misleading as it sounds like nothing else on the set. The Weekend sings over a mid tempo largely generic backing track which sounds quite similar to Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”.
I think when you see that Disclosure are teaming up with The Weekend you naturally think the track is going to be mind blowing and mind blowing it certainly aint.
When I talked about not coming out of their comfort zone then you can look no further than track 2 “Omen” which features the vocal of Sam Smith. Having had a massive hit together on the first album “Latch” it made sense that they would have another go at recreating the magic. But did it work?
It was unlikely they would ever create something as good as “Latch” but “Omen” is still a brilliant song. I liked it so much I had it as my song of 2015 which there can be no more higher praise!
Smith is a great dance music vocalist and when he conveying a relationship gone wrong and the sense of impending loss he really does it well. Disclosure know how to bring out the best of him and quite frankly i’d love to see Disclosure do a full album with Sam Smith.
“Holding On” is track 3 and the tempo is majorly ramped up. The song features vocals from American Jazz singer Gregory Porter. Without a doubt this is the best vocal on the entire album. The way Porter sings this fast tempo song with so much ease is wonderful.
Porter sounds the most comfortable of any singer on this album and clearly is a very talented vocalist. The track itself is really enjoyable. The melody seems familiar but it hits every point that a soulful house song should. A intrinsically brilliantly produced piece of music.
“Hourglass” features the vocal of Lion Babe. This female singer is unknown to me. Her performance is decent without being spectacular on a standard dance track which Disclosure use many of their familiar production tricks. The song is 05:24 long which is about 2 minutes to long and I suspect you’ll be reaching for the skip button.
“Willing & Able” is a song I have been back and forward with in my mind since purchasing the album in 2015. It features the vocals of British singer Kwabs and after much deliberation I am a fan of the song. It’s downbeat post club feel sees Kwabs sing about moving a relationship forward.
It is perhaps the vocal from Kwabs which left me unconvinced by this track. There is something about his performance that left me a little cold and the track as a whole perhaps needed something more to it in those final 90 seconds.
“Magnets” is the sixth track. It is certainly one of the more interesting guest spots on the set with the vocals being provided by New Zealand singer Lorde. I don’t believe she sounds comfortable on this track and it’s slow nature is to try and accommodate a singer who doesn’t fit when doing this type of music. Unexciting.
“Jaded” is exciting. It was in my top ten tracks of 2015 and even now a year on I continue to play it with interest. The vocal actually comes from one half of Disclosure Howard Lawrence. His vocal is layered and doesn’t sound weak where on it’s own it probably would have.
I love the beat, I love the hook and I even love the lyrics.
In an interview the brothers stated that the song was about the state of the EDM scene and whilst I wouldn’t have guessed that before gaining this information the song was clearly about something that has now become old and is unable to let go and face the reality of the situation. The song is strong, and a little bitchy but I one of the most enjoyable songs that Disclosure have ever produced.
“Good Intentions” is a top tune. It’s atmospheric, soulful and hits a part of my brain that sends everything into sparks.
The song actually features the vocals from Miguel which until I read in the sleeve notes I didn’t even realise and I like Miguel! His appearance is a little redundant as this could have been any singer but regardless the song is just superb.
Track 9 is “Supergo”. This features the vocals from Nao who is a British Singer Songwriter. Without being too harsh I feel like Aluna from Alunageorge wasn’t available like she was on “White Noise” so they had to bring in someone who sounds exactly like her.
But the song works. And it works because Disclosure know how to make all types of post club dance music. This is one of the most simple tracks on “Caracal” and whilst lyrically it is probably the weakest the song comes together to create a catchy chilled out tune.
On the first album Disclosure included a track called “You & Me” which was a straight up Garage tune and they have just about done the same thing with track 10 “Echoes”. It is Howard Lawrence providing the vocals again on this pungent Garage track.
The album closes with “Masterpiece” featuring vocals from Australian artist Jordan Rakei. This is the only song on the album that could not be called a dance song. It’s a R&B Neo Soul type song. It is a strange inclusion on the set but as a Soul music fan it will appeal to me.
Whilst this track is a bit of a downbeat way to end the album there is never a sense that Disclosure are finished. I still believe something even bigger is coming and there will be a collaboration with someone on another stratosphere to what they have done thus far.
“Caracal” is a very good album and whilst not as strong as their debut (2nd albums rarely are) it is still a set that cements them as the leaders of the Dance Music producer scene at the moment.
Their music has edge, it has soul and whilst it takes from previous eras they are able to add something new and never require lazy samples to make their songs successful.
I think Disclosure are exceptional.