The August 1992 cover of monthly dance mag Mixmag was emblazoned with a photo of The Prodigy's Liam Howlett holding a revolver to his head. Underneath it stood the accusatory and incriminating headline 'Did Charly Kill Rave?'
At the time of this issue's publication, Disclosure's Guy Lawrence could barely crawl, let alone dance - he was three months old. Future band-mate and sibling Howard Lawrence wasn't even born, and Snap's 'Rhythm Is A Dancer' sat atop the UK's music charts. Dance music was in the doldrums.
Music is cyclical. Fast forward 23 years and Disclosure stand accused of a similar crime: this time of smothering EDM in its sleep. It's a preposterous charge, of course. Disclosure was not the architect of EDM's demise, though the success of their 2013 debut LP 'Settle' was a key cause. Like The Prodigy's 1992 album 'Experience', their debut opened the floodgates to a plethora of pale imitations eager to capitalise on its success - a thousand echoes of a purer sound.
On second album 'Caracal', Disclosure cleverly heed the death-throes of EDM and follow the winds of change. This time around they opt for a more nuanced and suave approach, toning down Settle's slavish adherence to 2step and house rhythms, instead embracing swooning R&B grooves. Sadly the end result is subdued rather than seductive; listless rather than tantalising.
Even an all-star cast can't save 'Caracal' from its restrained atmosphere and overly polished production. Lorde has never sounded as dreary as she does on the lacklustre 'Magnets', and the Weeknd's charmless falsetto dulls the glimmer from the sparkling soundscape of 'Nocturnal'. 'Omen' (with Sam Smith) is fine, but it's a monochrome facsimile of the vibrant technicolor of their 2013 collaboration 'Latch'. Ultimately, 'Caracal' lacks 'Settle''s exuberance, and plays it safe far too often.
Words: Benji Taylor
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