Sena Adjei | Staff Writer
Last week, House and Electro-Pop super duo Disclosure released their sophomore LP Caracal, their follow-up to last year’s leonine work and debut project Settle. With their initial project, Disclosure’s impact on the music industry was undeniable, bringing an entirely new level of legitimacy and popular appeal to house and electronic music worldwide as well as single handedly helping to spur the career of singer/songwriter Sam Smith.
Coming off of this maelstrom of critical praise, global touring, and commercial viability, the expectations for Disclosure’s follow up LP have been insurmountably high. Caracal, with its star-studded list of collaborators, and newly exhibited perspective on Pop music meets many of these expectations but doesn’t quite seem to exceed them.
Disclosure’s undeniable merit has existed largely in its ability to occupy the space in between genres, while still nearly-perfectly balancing each of their many collaborators to create something unique. Settle, through its ability to do this became much more than just a House album, in fact, it became Disclosure’s sonic staple. What Caracal often does though, is completely incinerates this formula.
Throughout the entire LP, we hear more and more the duo adopting elements of funk, soul, and especially R&B, working synergistically with each of their guest vocalists to frame their respective sounds, while still pretty expertly sewing in their own trademarked House cadences. This blend is heard best on records like “Holding On,” and “Omen,” birthing some incredibly exciting and compelling moments, and generally always finding its way back from its less concise stretches.
Relying on the vocalists or Disclosure’s own production more to carry the project forward, especially on the single “Jaded,” featuring English singer and songwriter Sam Romans who rides the crest of the track’s pulsing synths. Despite the exhibition of how this newly discovered blueprint can be effective and appealing, the album altogether feels somehow lukewarm as each track is visited and revisited.
No new moments of inspiration are uncovered, the paths the album follows begin to feel well-worn.
Though the lending of some different Pop and R&B elements to their sound often properly serves the continuity and distinction of the record, the album itself doesn’t do anything spectacular or innovative with these new elements. The album begins and ends with a few moments of exceptionality shining through, but when juxtaposed to the rippling and leviathan work that was Settle, this LP can’t help but become something worse than a lateral move, it becomes a tangible regression.