- When Hot Natured's "Benediction" broke the top 40 in the UK, Jamie Jones felt the need to defend himself. "White Noise," Disclosure's second single from Settle, peaked at number two. But Guy and Howard Lawrence aren't on the defensive—far from it, in fact. The UK duo have embraced pop music, and who can blame them? They wear it just fine. After last year's wildly successful The Face EP, the two have the dance world under their thumbs and they look set to do the same with the mainstream. Settle is their plan of attack. Like Basement Jaxx before them, Disclosure have found the elusive common ground between pop and club music, and the result is this seemingly effortless summer album.
Disclosure's latest moves have seemed like outright grabs at the charts. Songs like "Latch" and "White Noise" are shiny dance tunes that sound like they were made with Radio 1 in mind. They write their songs with a pressure-cooker formula that makes every drop enormous (they like their pre-chorus breakdowns). Many dance artists struggle to incorporate vocalists, but Disclosure, crucially, know how to write a tune. Many of them are just silly love songs, but they exude a genuine youthful energy. When Sasha Keable yells "I tried to resist, but you caught me!" over the duo's storm of synths, it feels perfectly convincing.
Disclosure's mastery of their form isn't limited to the sugar rush. Highlighting their garage impulses for one of the record's most irresistible moments, "Defeated No More" has a leisurely lope to match Ed Macfarlane's measured tones. And they can still make a fine instrumental, like Settle's cracking opener, "When A Fire Starts To Burn." Playing with a sample that sounds like a feverish preacher, the drums hit crisply and the song vibes off its own tireless energy. Elsewhere, "Stimulation" chops up a diva sample, and "Grab Her" is a dizzy sequence of ascending and descending scales.
Settle isn't perfect, of course. Those instrumental moments don't feel as revelatory when they're next to the poppier numbers, especially since Disclosure have a knack for finding vocalists with charisma and putting them to good work. The only singer who isn't a complete knockout is Jessie Ware, who sounds like a cartoon devil on "Confess To Me." Otherwise, guest spots are their strong point—an aspect that often trips up other artists.
Predictably, Disclosure have seen quite a backlash from the dance community. For some, their sound is too retro, reaching back to the apex of early '00s commercial UK garage. For others, their choice to privilege vocal gems over club tracks is simply unforgivable, a clear indication that their mind is on the charts. But where their allegiances lie is irrelevant, and though their brand of dance music is indeed a squeaky clean one, Settle doesn't feel like it's trying to be an underground dance music record. It's the complete opposite: a pop album brimming with imagination, vibrant melodies and, yes, a fair bit of formula. But all pop has to have formula—and lucky for them, Disclosure's happens to be a great one.
02. When A Fire Starts To Burn
03. Latch feat. Sam Smith
04. F For You
05. White Noise feat. AlunaGeorge
06. Defeated No More feat. Ed Macfarlane
08. Voices feat. Sasha Keable
09. Second Chance
10. Grab Her!
11. You & Me feat. Eliza Doolittle
12. January feat. Jamie Woon
13. Confess To Me feat. Jessie Ware
14. Help Me Lose My Mind feat. London Grammar