Disclosure - Caracal: The Curse of the Sophomore Album
I think that you could argue Disclosure's sound is based off of three major elements: Lush chords, plucky square-wave bass lines and swing; as in rhythmic swing. These 3 elements alone, for me, made Disclosure so popular. The Lawrence brothers essentially distilled the essence of Garage or Garage-House and added those buttery sweet chords over top. They then take that same 3 ingredient recipe, vary to taste and sprinkle some silky vocals overtop. Voila! You have another Disclosure album! That's my overall feeling about Caracal.
Did I like it? On the whole, not so much, for precisely the reasons stated above; similar instrumentation, song arrangement and style. Also, where are the instrumentals? Or at the very least gimme a Bang That or something more mildly instrumental.
Do I expect more of these 2 young guns? Frankly, yes, but realistically, no. Why? Because you can't expect a major label like SONY to issue a follow-up to such a chart-topping album like Settle with something totally different, after you've retained so many fans in the process. Trust me, I have done just this and feel it greatly affected my fan-base.
So the question really is, can an artist or artists be free to express their musical interests outside of what made them popular and still maintain an equal or greater fan-base in the process?
From reading through at least 10 music media reviews on the album, I would say that yes you can and in fact, you should. Most reviews I've read give a similar analysis to my own; good but not great. It has it's high points, or better songs, but overall, they weren't wowed. I wonder if this speaks more to the tastes of a music journalist or producer who consumes so much music on a daily/weekly/monthly basis that they just want something so totally different? Aren't there enough people making music now to fill every obscure void? Why should these guys be expected to give us something so different?
For my own part, I think I put Disclosure on a pedestal of sorts, expecting them to somehow revolutionize their sound or the sound of dance music as opposed to just being a couple of great musicians making really well produced music. That's likely more a nod to my age. I'm going to approach this album as a great effort of which I hope Howard and Guy take their critical licks from and move on. My hope is that their existing fans keep Holding On and not be too Jaded and allow Disclosure to create a new Masterpiece sometime in the future; see what I did there?