It’s not easy making a follow up to a critically acclaimed album. Especially in house music, where you can lose fans at a disappointing bass drop. But Disclosure made it look so easy that you would think they have more albums under their belt. Their debut Settle, was a dramatic entrance but Caracal is a polite reminder as to why they are in the room in the first place.
The British duo’s forward thinking style is constantly motivated by a dissatisfaction of the sounds saturated on the charts and in the clubs. This is definitely shows on Caracal. No wobbles, no unwarranted screeches and no face melting bass drops; just clean, crisp, and atmospheric sounds over basslines that you can’t help but dance ever so subtly to. Right from the jump on “Nocturnal,” they create a space that’s well in the style of the feature and of themselves. It’s classic Disclosure. The Weeknd brings his mellow vibes straight from Beauty behind The Madness and lays it down on a chilled opener.
The album moves fluidly into the Sam Smith featured single “Omen.” It’s that super toned down electro pop that sneaks into your head and stays there forever. Plus it’s Sam Smith and the last time the duo collaborated with Smith, we got “Latch.” Now, “Omen” might not be in the same direction, but it’s definitely amazing. The duo’s minimalist approach leaves enough room for Smith’s vocals carry right through.
In true Disclosure fashion, they introduce names that we should be keeping an eye out for. From Gregory Porter’s soulful takes on “Holding On” to Kwabs’ low register RnB on “Willing and Able” to LION BABE’s funky delivery on “Hourglass” these artists add twists to each track. On “Holding On,” Gregory gives the track a vintage feel with the simple but catchy lyrics over a playful bassline. The duo’s style is present with the looped vocals lingering in the background. “Hourglass” ups the tempo a little bit but still keeps the album very far from the typical dance tempos and more within the deep house range. Here, there are distinct gaps of bassline playing that are extremely infectious, but are broken by smooth vocals over smooth synths and toned down kicks before diving back into the dance rhythm. But moving straight from this into “Willing and Able” calms the album right down again. Stripping away even further, this one is more emotion than I could handle.
The most anticipated track comes right after with “Magnets” featuring Lorde. The tropical and exotic rhythms on this are a little out of their depth and sound like elements off a Jamie xx album, but over Lorde’s icy vocals, it works quite well. From there it takes a little turn into the featureless, garage throwback that is “Jaded.” The writing is pretty serious and poetic over very simple loops and samples. The Miguel featured “Good Intentions” kicks off like something out of a 90s sci-fi action movie but quickly twists into a broken and complicated situation between a girl. Miguel stays perfectly in his comfort zone on this.
The rest of the album follows no prior logic, moving from sound to sound and style to style. “Bang That” and “Echoes” resemble works that came off “Settle,” which, is a refreshing reminder. “Super Ego” and “Moving Mountains” present a hint of this indie/alternative pop and soft and toned down trap respectively. “After Thought” brings the album back to the group’s new direction and the song’s more confident tempo is a bold statement, hidden in a love song. Fans who expected another “Settle” might be thoroughly disappointed. But fans who expected a redefinition of deep house and dance music, will be extremely pleased.