Caracal (Deluxe)

Caracal (Deluxe)

Between their monster breakout single “Latch” and 2013 debut album Settle, Disclosure helped expand the mainstream’s perception of dance music, balancing EDM’s high-octane energy with the smoother, subtler sounds of house music and UK garage. As producers followed in the duo’s wake, Howard and Guy Lawrence, who didn’t want to be pigeonholed as solely house artists, looked to switch it up on their next full-length project. Since Settle, they had worked with R&B heavyweight Mary J. Blige on a trio of songs (“Follow,” “Right Now,” and an “F For You” remix), produced a throwback hip-hop track for rapper Bishop Nehru (“You Stressin’”), and launched a record label through which they honed their A&R skills. Caracal, Disclosure’s second album, is an extension of their experimental streak. Released in the fall of 2015, it further blurs the line between dance music with pop sensibilities and pop music with dance influences. The duo’s new cultural cache is reflected in their roster of featured vocalists, putting high-profile stars such as Lorde, The Weeknd, and Miguel alongside rising names including LION BABE, Kwabs, and Jordan Rakei. Whereas dance-floor-aiming instrumentals comprised much of their debut, none appear on the standard release (though club single “Bang That” sneaks onto the deluxe version). Caracal instead dials down the BPMs in search of more radio-friendly fare: Sam Smith—now a star in their own right after toplining on “Latch”—invokes gospel with their soaring chorus on “Omen,” Lorde risks it all for love on the slinky, syrupy “Magnets,” and Nao imparts hard truths among the shimmering R&B of “Superego.” Still, there are bursts of energy in tracks like glossy house-R&B hybrid “Hourglass” and the incendiary “Echoes” with their skittering percussion. Disclosure’s harmonious marriage of dance and pop on Caracal made them bigger in both worlds, encouraging more cross-genre collabs and further-reaching sonic explorations.

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