Disclosure – Settle

by Colin Bugler and Jack Reid

Colin Bugler When a fire starts to burn, right? Then it starts to spread… Certainly the 90s garage revival sound evoked by young Surrey duo (woop woop!), Disclosure, has taken hold in the notoriously fragmented arena of electronic music, propelling the Lawrence brothers to the top of the charts in the early stages of 2013 with two UK Top 10 hits. With massive levels of hype and media expectation surrounding the pair following the success of White Noise and You And Me, it would have been easy to foresee the following album as a rushed release designed to capitalise on recent public attention. Following weeks of leaked tracks, exclusive radio plays, and an appearance at the Radio 1 Big Weekend, I turned to Settle expecting to be disappointed. Fortunately, this was not the case.

People love to watch a fire burn. Settle burns brightly, delivering the hits we’ve already heard; Latch, White Noise and You And Me, yet at the same time, continuing to surprise. The intro builds the tension into When A Fire Starts To Burn, a driving, up-tempo track that’s certainly set to become an undisputed dancefloor classic, widely leaked online over the past week. F For You, one of the highlights of the duo’s Big Weekend set, delivers a similarly catchy hook and the pulsing synths and danceable garage rhythms that are quickly becoming Disclosure’s signature sound.

However it was the tracks I hadn’t heard before that really set the album apart. Defeated No More, featuring the obvious vocal talents of Ed Macfarlane (Friendly Fires), was definitely my favourite of the new tunes. Tastefully produced, with the duo showing an ear for dynamics too often absent from contemporary dance music. The bass cuts in and out, leaving room for Macfarlane’s question-and-answer vocals and tasty synth stabs. Powerful rhythm balanced with restraint and a rare musicality.

The eighth song, Voices, is further testament to this, with Sasha Keable this time providing the vocal, drawing on the classic RnB sounds of 90s dance over a typically bouncy two-step instrumental, further brightened by occasional vinyl scratches unusual in contemporary house music.

Further appearances from Jamie Woon, Jessie Ware, and London Grammar are also successful, with the latter providing a gentle concluding note to the album. On the whole, a brilliant success that will surely be quantified by a lengthy run in the charts, and hopefully, the beginnings of a new trend in dance music.

Picks: Defeated No More, January

Jack Reid So Disclosure have finally given us a full length LP after teasing us with numerous club-oriented EPs, and releases that dripped out over the last couple of years to an incredible reception. Many of those releases slide into the new record, including Latch, White Noise, and most recently the summer banger, You And Me. If you’ve had your head anywhere other than under a rock, you’ll be very familiar with the two former tracks, with their reverb drenched buildups and addictive vocals. Sam Smith’s vocals in particular stand out as being etched into the back corner of my brain, in the synapse associated with the Arena dancefloor.

Now, for the new stuff. In the days before I got my mitts on the album, I found the pre-release for track two: When A Fire Starts To Burn. The tune features a boldly repetative spoken word sample, that makes far more sense with the context of the preceding track. In fact, the smooth transition from the eccentric introduction into the first tune is beautifully cohesive. However, listen to that tune three times in a row and try not to go mad listening to the sample. The repetition begins to ruin the composition after that sample’s fifteenth revolution. See what I did there?

My first big pick of the new material is Defeated No More, with an outstanding feature from Ed Macfarlane, the vocal talent from Friendly Fires. The fusion of Disclosure’s insatiably garage-y beats and Ed’s funk sensibilities was always going to be a winner. The track just screams its own kind of jazz and seems to smell of a Mediterranean beach-side bar. Next up: Stimulation. This tune is pure Deep House. It’s nice to hear the boys try their hand at drifting back away from the mainstream sound and into the underground. This is something I wouldn’t be shocked to hear brought into the mix at a Thick As Thieves night.

In such an extensive release, some weaknessess are bound to show. I think that the first of these weaknessess shows in Voices. The uncredited vocal works with the synths to follow a painfully uninspired chord progression. There begins to emerge a pattern of the same Disclosure playbook. The duo have always been adept with their beats, having somehow distilled the essence of UK Garage and dragging it into the mainstream. However, their songwriting skills seem to remain lacking. Perhaps they give themselves too high a bar when they throw out tracks like Latch, leaving pieces like Help Me Lose My Mind in the dust.

Don’t get me wrong, the album is a fantastic collection of tunes. Perhaps it’s not as cohesive as the introductory track would suggest, and perhaps it’s not as consistent as I’d hope for, but it’s definitely going to slot nicely in to the soundtrack of my summer. I could listen to those synths in Confess To Me from sunrise to sunset, with beer in hand.

Picks: Defeated No More, Grab Her!, Latch