It all began a few years back with a song called ‘Latch’. Three years on, Guy and Howard Lawrence, two brothers from Reigate in Surrey, are on top of the world with hit after hit and millions of eager listeners along for the ride.
We didn’t know exactly what to expect when ‘Latch’, the debut single from Disclosure, was released three years ago this month. The song that came from nowhere went to the top of the charts in both the UK and other countries, and propelled the vocalist Sam Smith straight from obscurity to global stardom.
A raised bar
The album that followed, Settle, which produced singles such as ‘White Noise’ with dance-pop duo AlunaGeorge, ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ with London Grammar, and ‘F For You’, also became a hit album, and created a new sound for the UK’s contribution to house music.
It became clear that Settle raised the bar for listener expectations from their next record. How could they top what they did before? On May 26th, we got a sampler courtesy of Radio 1’s Annie Mac, who played ‘Holding On’, a collaboration with jazz vocalist Gregory Porter.
We also began to learn how the new album would take shape. Collaborations would still be the heart of the album as we hear how Guy and Howard master the electronic sound. The final product would be Caracal, released on 25th September and the number one album in the chart this week.
Settle was an introduction to Disclosure’s sound. With Caracal they could go deeper and continue to innovate…and innovate they did.
Some songs are synonymous with the feel of dance – ‘Holding On’ and ‘Jaded’ are at the top of the bill. Yet ‘Jaded’ has a message – they are about more than just collaborations with Sam Smith.
The duo with a plan
However, not all of the songs on Caracal are dance-oriented. ‘Magnets’, their collaboration with Lorde, is a slower tempo but allows the vocal elements to be the star, similar to what was done with Porter.
Yet compared with ‘Holding On’, ‘Magnets’ is one of those songs that captures what a pop song should sound like, where formulaic Simon-Cowell-knows-you-can-be-a-star tendencies are absent, and ingenuity and ideas are front and centre.
‘Nocturnal’, their collaboration with The Weeknd, and ‘Omen’, their latest collaboration with Sam Smith, also echo the modern pop sound, but emphasise the background surrounding the electronic sound’s influence on pop itself.
On the whole, with the release of Caracal, Disclosure have completed the victory lap that Settle brought them. Now, Guy and Howard Lawrence can sit down and focus on the business of the sound, how to make the artist-listener relationship the best it can be, and how they can become more than just the breakthrough act of three years ago. Only then can they sit back and let things happen.
Disclosure are not going away just yet. They have a plan, and they’re sticking with it. And if I may say so, it’s a rather good one.
What do you think of Caracal? Have your say in the comments section below.