Disclosure’s ‘Caracal’: Album Review

2015 was marked as the year Disclosure would reclaim their unofficial Masters of the Dancefloor title, despite us getting some incredible house/dance music throughout these past months from acts like Duke Dumont, Gorgon City, BlondeRudimental, Kygo, The Knocks, Years & Years, Clean Bandit, etc. to hold us over. When the promise of new music from the production duo was revealed in April, I thought it would surely provide a spark to a somewhat lackluster fourth quarter.

Today (), the release of Disclosure’s sophomore effort Caracal shows their musical crown is not sitting as straight as expected. The first album may have been called Settle, but with Caracal the two brothers truly sink the cat’s teeth deep into comfortability — and unfortunately get stuck.

Instead of kicking off the album with a shining club-ready anthem, Disclosure decide to wait for the street lights to turn on with LP opener — “Nocturnal.” Featuring The Weeknd, it is a hypnotizing trance of emptiness that is masked by feathery percussion and the Toronto native’s instantly recognizable sharp croons. Following is “Omen,” Disclosure’s second official collaboration with fellow UK artist Sam Smith. When the three announced they were teaming up once again back in June, many questioned how in the hell they planned to follow up 2013’s ubiquitous “Latch.”

It is a hard feat to reach, but “Omen” manages to stand on its own with its languid sexiness. Is it exciting? Of course, especially when paired up again the banality of other artists’ singles this year. But can Disclosure push themselves further than this predictable sound (their live festivals sets are indicative of this)? Absolutely, which is why listening to their sophomore album is quite frustrating.

Thankfully, the deadpan steadiness of Caracal is cut with solid pop star cameos (Lorde owning her ominous aura on the glitchy pop-R&B “Magnets,” NYC’s own Lion Babe churning deep into a steamy soulful groove for “Hourglass” and the not-to-be-overlooked “Superego” that features budding UK R&B artist Nao) that helps the album hold its balance — but it is not enough.

One of the other reasons that makes Caracal frustrating is — as with many artists’ albums — the two strongest tunes aren’t found on the standard edition. Instead, they are stationed as deluxe bonus tracks. But I’m here to let you know not to forget about them! The first is the wildly massive “Bang That” — an ode to the gritty UK sound that initially gave me a sliver of hope once it dropped back in May. Once that sampled rusty hook (“Bang that / Til you / Pass out / Shake that / Til you / Pass out”) gets into your system, you’ll be wishing Disclosure continued to ride this wave.

The second track, the Brendan Reilly-assisted “Moving Mountains,” is the complete opposite and affirms the producers can in fact shift away from their predicted dance-ready thumpers while making it sound damn good. The American singer’s breathy harmonies are reminiscent of *NSYNC’s early ’00s heydays, which are gracefully laid over a dangerously smooth production.

There is an air of seriousness found on this album that differs it from its electrifying predecessor. While Settle rushed partygoers onto the dancefloor and into an international frenzy, Caracal leads them away from from the glitter-dusted venue and into the chilling reality of a lonely world. The project plays on loop as a vapid musical blanket of comfort once you realize you’re going home to an empty bed, soon after that final drink is served at the bar.

Idolator Score: 3.5/5

— Bianca Gracie

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