When Disclosure released Settle in 2013, there were generally positive reviews all round, except for from certain corners of the dance fraternity who made accusations of collaboration for the sake of sales, and commercially explicit borrowing of ideas that had gone before.
At the time it was an allegation that I felt was aimed at a couple of young lads by other resentful “producers” that could only hope to draw the services of budget acts and session singers (for a fee of course), not capable of enticing people like Ed McFarlane (Friendly Fires), Eliza Doolittle, and whoever the other lot were.
But on this album, Caracal (which is a large cat?), I have to say that the allegation hits home rather more profoundly. In come a whole bunch of ‘names’, but gone are the solid stabby hooks, and the club-classic feel to so many of the choice tracks of the first album.
All we are left with is the bedwetting Sam Smith (who just butchered the new James Bond film for everyone) marauding over some track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a mid-nineties Kylie Minogue album, a track featuring The Weeknd which I forgot the moment it finished, that young Lorde girl (in fairness probably the strongest track of the collaboration lot), some jazz skinhead called Brendan Reilly singing some kind of out of place piano jazz piece, and a load of other collaborations that I can’t even begin to be bothered to go into, except for the one with someone called Jordan Rakei, who closes out the album with a song called Masterpiece.
That title, and in fact Disclosure as a group, are very far wide of the mark here. It’s just not happened for them. Yes in places there are the trademark overly-compressed beats and that, but the vocals on each track just don’t do a great deal. They are annoying if anything.
Jaded is decent and, sung by one of the duo, it’s probably the most similar to a track of the standard that would’ve made the first album. Now, I’m not saying that they should’ve just remade Settle, it’s just that the departure hasn’t only been in style, it’s been in quality too.
It’s really confusing. There’s no substance or coherence to this album. Have they rushed it? Have they tried to go even more commercial? I mean, there we were all thinking they were the next Chemical Brothers (proof that collaborations can be unreal), but they’ve become more like another duo – The Proclaimers? No, but whatever they had going for them before has dissipated into a dirge of everything that middle of the road dance music sadly brings to the table. They were so close too…
To put it in perspective. I put it on before I was going out tonight, you know, to get me “up for it”… I’m staying in now.