Album Review: Disclosure - 'Caracal'

Album Review: Disclosure - 'Caracal'

Darcy Coombs

On a personal level, this is definitely an album that I had been anticipating for a long time.

Disclosure gave the world a taste of a new breed of garage/R&B inspired dance music that found its way to mainstream popularity without offending the indiesphere. Personally, I adored Settle. It was on rotation in my car for almost a year and I love going back to it.

Anyone would be hard-pressed to find another act that has the following to sell out the O2 Arena in London while being able to DJ at clubs such as the infamous Berghain. Disclosure have been able to construct a fan base that straddles both the mainstream environment and the legitimate club scene.

The support of the latter, following their sophomore release, may now be over.

After seeing the star-studded line-up of features, including Lorde, Miguel and The Weeknd, I was scared of what Caracal would bring.

Should we really expect recycled pop tunes from a group that turned so many heads by being fresh and renewing on their debut record?

The album begins with 'Nocturnal', featuring a vocal performance from of-the-moment singer The Weeknd which is about as convincing as your better half trying to say 'It’s not you, it’s me.' As an opener, this seven-minute marathon only functions as a tone-setter for the impending dullness that riddles a large portion of the album.

The sixth track, 'Magnets', featuring a Lorde vocal feature, is another low point. Never in a million years would I have picked it to be a Disclosure original, and the track wouldn’t even sound out of place on Lorde’s debut Pure Heroine. The song itself has a completely underwhelming melody and throwaway lyrics. Put simply, it doesn’t offer much.

While 'Caracal' comes through with a handful of likeable singles, the majority will only be forgotten.

Several tracks also feature vocals from Howard, the younger of the two brothers who comprise Disclosure. Though his performances do show confidence, the melodies, lyrics and flow are often unbalanced and mundane.

Amongst the general monotony, however, there are some winners. The Sam Smith and Disclosure partnership continues to work on 'Omen'. Gregory Porter gives the most convincing vocal performance of the record with 'Holdin’ On', a track that tips its hat to the house of the mid-90s with a pop sensibility. It brings a sense of playfulness and urgency that is so scarce throughout the album.

My favourite, however, is the classy 'Hourglass' featuring guest vocals from Lion Babe. This track combines a wide, resonant bass line that rings through the speakers as Lion Babe chants her intricate melody. This is the Disclosure we know and love.

Despite this, the replay value of this album is nowhere near the bar that was set with their debut. Settle was an album that took calculated risks and was able to elegantly bridge the gap between club and radio. 

Of course, with a major label to satisfy, it would be more difficult to make such decisions, but that doesn’t excuse a largely risk-free album in a genre that demands constant tinkering in order to separate yourself. While Caracal comes through with a handful of likeable singles, the majority will only be forgotten.

It is completely understandable that Disclosure didn’t want to make the same album twice. However, bringing on a star-studded line-up does not necessarily ensure enjoyable tunes. 

It’s not usually the disastrous albums that we dislike the most, but the ones that have every right to be great and fall so far from that line. Something was telling me that this could have been the album that consolidated Disclosure’s status amongst some of the great dance duos of the past decade.

Instead, the album meanders the listener through 52 minutes of mostly safe, uninspiring pop music.


Darcy Coombs hides behind his computer as the beat scribe for his band Otious. You'll find him voicing his opinions in 'Read'. He also hasn't grown a millimetre since he was 14.