Release Date: 03/06/2013
Disclosure have been a big name on the UK electronic music scene for a few years now, garnering a reputation for their clever and accessible fusion of house and garage, with tracks like ‘What’s In Your Head’ and their remix of Jessie Ware’s ‘Running’ having become staples in DJ sets across the country. Whatever their opinion on the duo’s unquestionably pop-esque take on the genre, the denizens of deep house club nights have known for a long time that the Lawrence brothers were destined to be the Next Big Thing, and with their debut full-length ‘Settle’, Disclosure have proven both their fans and their detractors completely right.
This is a pop album, and a very good one, but it still takes full advantage of the warmth and emotional resonance that the tropes of deep house music provide, blending the influences into a sound that is at once sensuous, precise, and completely addictive. ‘Latch’, the lead single and the first that many mainstream listeners heard of Disclosure, is almost pure pop, the duo’s house background only noticeable from the clever dynamics of the production and the precision of its bassline. Sam Smith’s memorable vocal contribution is one of several standout features on the album, which recruits vocals from electronic favourites Jessie Ware and Alunageorge as well as slightly more unexpected choices like Eliza Doolittle, alt-dub crooner Jamie Woon and Friendly Fires singer Edward MacFarlane. The key success of these tracks is that, unlike so many electronic and urban albums that are released, the prominence of vocal features on ‘Settle’ doesn’t indicate a lack of creativity or weakness in the album’s musicality. In fact, Disclosure have done a great job in getting the most out of these collaborations, and they form some of the album’s highlights, to the extent that you get the impression that the brothers are better at pop than they are at house. That’s not to say that the album lacks ‘real’ house credentials, as tracks like ‘Stimulation’ and ‘Grab Her!’ are used as opportunities to bring classic deep-house basslines to a new generation of listeners, and even the album’s obvious hits are informed, not just by the stylistic cues of the genre, but also by the attention to sonic detail that years of crafting tracks for the dancefloor have bred in the duo.
There are some downsides to ‘Settle’; its consistent style makes you wonder whether Disclosure have much potential for reinvention, and the album’s brilliance is tempered by a shadow of the feeling that it may be the zenith, the last burst of creativity before deep house’s foray into the charts is swamped by the copycats and clichés of commercialism, but even if that proves to be the case, my advice is simple: the party’s not over yet, so enjoy the vibes while they last. 9/10