Three years ago, house-pop duo Disclosure took the reins of the U.K. house revival movement by dropping the one-two punch of singles “Latch” and “White Noise.” Their major-label debut, Settle, ended up being nothing less than a feature-studded masterpiece that redefined dance music. By mixing both past and present Disclosure launched a trend that hit its stride last year overseas, and is currently still gaining momentum on U.S. charts.
“You hear house music on the radio all the time now and that’s great, I’m glad the record helped to bring that forward,” older sibling Guy Lawrence told Buzzfeed this summer during the promo tour for their new LP, Caracal. “But now that’s done, let’s try something else.”
Such declaration may come as a shock to fans, but truth is, Disclosure is no more a house duo than Kanye West is purely a hip-hop artist. Each uses their respective genre as a means to achieve what they’re really interested in: Pop music. And on Caracal, the group’s pop ambitions are less diluted than ever.
Their latest album works as a succession of perfectly crafted dance-pop gems with a touch of soul and R&B. The songs are much more conventionally built this time around to assure accessibility and mainstream success, but the multilayered and slightly left-field production makes sure to generously reward multiple listens. Even with the aforementioned changes, Disclosure’s imprint remains omnipresent throughout, thanks to their characteristic drum pad configurations, ’90s-reminiscing reverbed synths, and bouncy bass lines.
Highlights include “Magnets,” featuring Lorde, with its hypnotic, barely-holding-onto-anything verses that explode in the catchiest chorus the singer has ever written. “Good Intentions,” a dancey reimagination of what made Miguel’s Wildheart a modern R&B classic, and “Hourglass,” a diva-making turn for neo-soul band Lion Babe with a bridge that’ll make clubs jump for the year to come; however, Caracal is so packed with hits that it’s barely impossible to tell which tracks will receive the ‘single’ treatment, if it doesn’t end up simply being all of them.
Ultimately though, what Caracal lacks is the same sense of general excitement its predecessor was dripping with. Nothing here is as revelatory as “Latch” was when it was first released, and the record as a whole isn’t trying to launch any kind of new movement. The result is the sound of two visionary pop-masterminds slowing their pace to evaluate their options, challenging themselves to try new directions in order to come back so far ahead of the mass, catching up with them won’t even be an option.