Disclosure, ‘Caracal’ – Review


Disclosure, Caracal © Island

Disclosure Nails It on ‘Caracal

Disclosure • Caracal • Capitol • Release Date: September 25, 2015

In recent times, electronic music has seen its profile greatly elevated. In a time where all genres seem to blend with others, electronic music has fit right in without a hitch. Don’t get it twisted – the music has its skeptics and pitfalls. Sustaining listener’s interests through predominately minimalist production over the course of an entire album can be tough. With sound being the driving factor, lyrics often fall by the wayside. While this argument can be made about some electronic acts and albums, it can’t be said of Disclosure and their terrific sophomore album, Caracal. 

“Nocturnal,” which opens Caracal, features The Weeknd, who has “blown up like a balloon.” Ubiquitous in pop music in 2015, it makes perfect sense that Disclosure would collaborate with the “it” guy. Overall, “Nocturnal” is an enjoyable record and The Weeknd sounds great. Is it the second coming? No, but being respectably good is worth something, right?

Disclosure steps up its game on the successive cuts following “Nocturnal.” “Omen” featuring Grammy winner Sam Smith is the latest collaboration between the two acts. Unsurprisingly, the results of the latest collaboration are exceptional. Smith sounds as commanding and compelling as ever, while Disclosure’s production work is slick, groovy, and spot-on.

Disclosure doesn’t stop there. Unlikely collaboration “Holding On” brings Grammy-winning, contemporary jazz vocalist Gregory Porter aboard – say what! Arguably, “Holding On” is as magical as “Omens” with opposites truly attracting. This showcases Porter’s versatility, not to mention Disclosure’s. “Holding On” reminisces back to house music characterized by big-time vocals.

There’s no shame in “Hourglass” featuring Lion Babe, though the soulful “Willing & Able” featuring Kwabs bests it. Kwabs nuanced pipes over the electro-soul production is simply celestial – this 25-year old is an artist to watch by all means. Sure Smith and Porter’s collaborations have received the most love, but “Willing & Able” is just as hot. Kwabs’ feature even overshadows Lorde’s turn on “Magnets,” which is no slouch.

“Jaded” is a departure – contextually speaking. Howard Lawrence handles leads with backing vocals by Guy Lawrence and ROMANS. So how does the record sound with Disclosure being featured without a guest? Awesome – these dudes are magnificent musicians. Despite the success, the mic is handed over to a particularly smooth sounding Miguel on “Good Intentions.” Miguel’s intentions are good, as is the record itself. Transcendent? – Nah, but definitely another well-rounded moment from Caracal.

“Superego” keeps things rolling right along, with Nao taking the vocal reins. Nao keeps it 100: “This ain’t the ‘me’ show, keep it on the low / where’s your superego? / you let your head grow, I tried to let you know / when I tell you how it is, you don’t like it.” Howard Lawrence steps to the mic again on “Echoes.” He returns later on deluxe edition tracks “Molecules” and “Afterthought.” “Afterthought,” the closer on the deluxe version, also features vocals by Guy Lawrence.

On standard version, “Masterpiece” featuring Jordan Rakei concludes Caracal. A lovely slow jam, it’s hard to imagine a better closer. That said, those who indulge into the deluxe not only receive the aforementioned bonus cuts, but also add the magnificent “Moving Mountains” to the mix, which gives “Masterpiece” a run for its money. Brendan Reilly sounds superb vocally, not to mention the work that Disclosure consistently put into the radiant backdrop.

How good is Caracal? It’s awesome without question. Disclosure never misses, something that can’t be said of every electronic album. All of the songs – whether it’s the 11-track standard edition or the deluxe version (14 or 15 tracks) – are worth the listen. This music is great for any occasion, another reason why this effort is so impressive.

Favorites: “Omen,” “Holding On,” “Willing & Able” and “Moving Mountains”

★★★★

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