Disclosure’s ‘Caracal’: Review Revue

Carl Williott | September 25, 2015 11:32 am

Disclosure‘s star-studded dance-pop effort Caracal arrived today (September 25), finally revealing how Guy and Howard Lawrence would follow up their stunning 2013 debut. And the answer? Neither with a bang (that) nor a whimper. Caracal turned out to be their attempt to make “tasteful” crossover dance music, much in the way Daft Punk‘s RAM was. But it’s much less memorable and fun than that album. And Settle, for that matter, which makes it feel like a sophomore slump, even though it’s somewhat successful as a mainstream pop record.

In our review, we felt the “quite frustrating” LP found the duo stuck in a rut of unchallenging music that resulted in “a vapid musical blanket of comfort.” But that’s our take! See what the critics are saying in our roundup of reviews below.

:: Pitchfork gave the album a middle-of-the-road 6.6 review which included the backhanded compliment “much of Caracal is vaguely pleasant music you can put on in the background while you’re working.”

:: Billboard also felt it worthy of a mediocre rating. In the site’s 3/5 review, calling it “immaculately constructed and stylish, but largely a nonevent.”

:: Stereogum summed it up thusly: “The albums that end up hurting us the most aren’t necessarily the ones that suck the hardest…the albums that hurt us the most are the ones that could have been something — that maybe should have been something — and turn out to be absolutely nothing. That’s this new Disclosure album.”

:: Spin handed out a 7/10 with the headline summing it up: “Disclosure Shoot For the Stars, Land in the Middle of the Road.”

:: Across the pond, The Guardian gave the LP three stars out of five but the writeup was much harsher than the score. “Much of the adolescent euphoria that coursed through Disclosure’s debut has been diluted…there are no surprises, no risks.”

:: DIY seconds all that, saying the Lawrence brothers “settle into their self-made groove with so much ease, they’re in danger of sinking into the mold.”

:: NME was more favorable, giving their countrymen a 4/5 and saying “Caracal is about Disclosure maturing, moving on and showing the listener how to rave respectably. This is dance music for grown-ups.”

:: A.V. Club also lauded the album with an A-. “Caracal‘s inherent pop appeal is in songs underscored by soul and R&B tones that are written with the collaborators in a traditional manner…Caracal is high-quality Top 40 material.

:: AllMusic concluded “Although the tracks rarely surprise…they’re as well-built as those of the debut, and the Lawrences, along with their songwriting partners, cover the ups and downs of falling in and out of love in sharper fashion.”