Widely credited with giving the commercial dance scene the shot in the arm it needed after being dominated by brainless fun-in-the-club trash-pop and bombastic dubstep-by-numbers over the last few years, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, aka Disclosure, now face the challenge of maintaining their high standards over the entirety of a 14-track LP, Settle.
Of course, the siblings’ have already released one of the most consistently strong series of singles since the UK garage sound first exploded onto the charts at the turn of the century. “White Noise,” an immaculately-produced fusion of dizzying electro stabs, addictive house beats and Aluna Francis’ alluring vocals is still refusing to budge from their homeland’s Top 40 four months after its release.
Predecessor “Latch” is the kind of slick falsetto-led electro soul that could have saved Sam Sparro from one-hit wonder status had they not selected soundalike Sam Smith to front it instead. Meanwhile, their current hit, “You and Me,” an old-school two-step collaboration with missing-in-action ska-pop chanteuse Eliza Doolittle, would have been an instant Ayia Napa classic had it been released a decade earlier.
Despite recruiting the likes of Jessie Ware and Friendly Fires’ Ed Macfarlane, there’s nothing quite as impressive on the rest of Settle. Indeed, the former’s sultry tones are slightly drowned out on the industrial electro of “Confess To Me,” while the latter fails to recapture the euphoria of his own band’s Pala on one of the many Chicago house pastiches, “Defeated No More.”
And for a band who seemed so hell-bent on shaking up the charts, it’s disappointing that they have succumbed to such aimless filler as “Grab Her,” a six-minute dirge which sounds like Disclosure merely pressed the demo button on a Casio keyboard while they went out for lunch, and the chaotic “Stimulation,” which could easily be a leftover from Basement Jaxx’s debut.
The lush sunset chill of closer “Help Me Lose My Mind,” an inspired hook-up with the equally promising trip-hop trio London Grammar, and the classy MJ Cole-esque garage of “Voices” are much more encouraging. Elsewhere, the chopped and screwed sampling of Kelis’ stunning “Get Along With You” on “Second Chance” proves that James Blake isn’t the only London boy who can mess around with the Kaleidoscope album to hypnotic effect.
The classic house/garage revival that Disclosure helped to kick-start, therefore, is still likely to remain in full swing for now. But expectations were so foolishly high that it’s hard not to be disappointed about the fact that Settle isn’t quite the magnum opus we all hoped for.