If Disclosure's 'Caracal' Is Underwhelming, It's Your Fault and Not Theirs
The issue? One can't inspire a paradigm shift in music twice with the same sound.
It's been about a week since Disclosure dropped their typically well-produced, catchy AF sophomore LP Caracal, and already, the Internet is awash with critical scoffs and high-brow fan blow-offs. The world sat around for two years with bated breath for a follow up to the unforeseeably successful Settle, got it, then greeted the shiny gift like a tweenage girl who started kissing boys yesterday and pretends she doesn't fux with dolls anymore.
The general consensus seems to be that Caracal is "underwhelming," to which I unabashedly say: "oh, horseshit." Pick any one of its 11 tracks and press play (I suggest "Superego" feat. Nao), and tell me it's not better than 90 percent of whatever's playing on your radio.
From start to finish, Caracal is expertly crafted, easy to enjoy, and full to the brim with flawless vocal features. It sounds just like what Disclosure would sound like if Disclosure were the biggest breakout band of their generation and could work with whomever in the world they admired.
So, what's the deal? Why do you find it kind of blah? If you're "underwhelmed" by the new Disclosure album, it's not because it isn't great, but rather, the problem is you, dear music listener. Thou doth expecteth too much, or some shit. Do you really expect the guy who invented the wheel to invent a fucking hovercraft two years later?
When "White Noise" dropped, it was the first spark in what would become a raging global fire. Ultimately, that inferno would purify and re-inspire a generation of dancers too drunk on big room anthems and dubstep wobbles for its own good.
With "Latch," two kids too young to enter most clubs went from underground heroes to mainstream mainstays. They literally changed the direction of music across genres and programming platforms. They also launched the career of a future Grammy-winning singer and put him on the path to annoy you with his own hit for the next 12 months.
Settle was an amazing moment that launched countless copycat artists and sounds. Labels signed anything with a soulful singer with a British accent over a four-to-the-floor beat. Producers stopped making trap remixes and started pretending to love garage, music bloggers typed ad nauseam about a "UK house revival," DJs mixed, like, five Disclosure songs per set. People everywhere scored one-night stands with a single soundtrack. Mary J. Blige hopped on the remix and got trotted out at festivals around the world as a "surprise" guest." It was oversaturation at its most delightful, a rinsing that cleansed your soul.
Two years later, we circle back to the original. Objectively speaking, it sounds just as great the second (or 1000th) time around, dare I say even more concise and well rounded. The issue? One can't inspire a paradigm shift in music twice with the same sound. It feels kind of like a let down, but only because normal growth in the shadow of revolution looks a bit status quo.
Disclosure are still incredible at what they do. Those two brothers do this sound better than the hundreds of followers creating in their footsteps. It's not yet a tired aesthetic, though perhaps it's a hype you're tired of hearing. You listen to Caracal, and you yearn for the surprise that came with your first time, after all, the first hit always hits hardest. Instead, you need to do like "Jaded" says and "take a look at yourself." Those "Golden Years" have left you behind, and Disclosure are giving you a new installment. Soak it up and save it, or you'll waste it. What else are you gonna do, listen to Sam Smith?
Resisting the inevitable isn't winning you cool points. Caracal is a masterful pop record, and these songs are going to top charts with or without the peanut gallery. I'm calling it now: in six months, all the haters are going put this on and be like "oh hey, this is actually quite good. What was I pissed about?" and no one will know.
Kat Bein loves to be bothered on social media - @KatSaysKill