Disclosure – Caracal Review

So Disclosure have released a new album and I’m excited about it. It goes by the name of “Caracal” and features everyone from Miguel to the Weeknd – the album sees Lorde seduce a married man in the video for ‘Magnets’ and also introduces us to the new James Bond track vocalist with “Omen” featuring no other than Sam Smith. The Lawrence brother’s are deservedly celebrating their second UK number 1 album, a massive achievement considering they’ve only been active since 2010, and what a huge progression since their early days in the industry.

Holding on is a track that features Grammy winning Jazz singer Gregory Porter, whose voice has been anywhere and everywhere this past year, even on this particular song “Holding on” which has been a massive hit prior to the album’s release. The background synth and almost clap-along beat is a standard with Disclosure tracks and it fits beautifully with Porter’s gliding vocals.

Up next we have an 808 that leads us into a snare, and a snare that leads us into some extra terrestrial sounding special effects, that eventually lead us into the magnificent roar of Lion Babe. “Hourglass” is Jillian Hervey’s first feature track, and she couldn’t have picked a better duo to collaborate with. In “Hourglass” she stays true to her soulful husk, and this combined with the magic of Disclosure’s production makes for a pretty easy listen.

“Willing and Able” by Kwabs is my favourite from the album, it’s introduced by trademark Disclosure percussion and is completely chilled and relaxed. I’m a huge fan of the very slight reverb on the vocals, and the synth progression on the build up to the chorus is what holds everything together.

Regardless of who Lorde collaborates with she always manages to keep in tact her signature style and doesn’t lose any of her substance through the wants of other artists. Her feature track is called “Magnets”, and both Lorde and Disclosure performed last year at the Brit awards, doing a combined version of “Royals” and “White noise”. They obviously clicked and realised they worked well together because “Magnets” has an absolutely incredible sound that takes the qualities from both parties and merges them into one.

King of the slow jam Miguel has his spotlight with “Good Intentions”. Just by listening it’s really quite hard to tell it’s his vocals, and this song I feel is slightly over processed. I wouldn’t say Miguel’s sound is distinct, but it’s definitely recognisable in his own music. I really feel like it’s been lost under all these deep house Disclosure layers and I can’t help but imagine how amazing it would sound if his voice was a little more raw and stripped back.

Ever since hearing her own track “Zillionaire” I’ve been obsessed with Nao. It was a song I had heard and forgot to Shazam, thus spending days of my life trying to piece together the lyrics I could remember in the hopes that a google search would reunite me. “Superego” definitely does not disappoint, it’s what liquid gold would sound like if it had the ability to sing. Again it incorporates a ridiculous amount of synth and layers but thankfully they don’t take away from the quality of her vocals, she makes it work and that’s just her style.

The album draws to a close with Echoes, which isn’t anything that different to what we’ve already heard from Disclosure. It features Synth, obviously. Why do the Howard brothers love synth so much? The last track on the album goes by the name of “Masterpiece” featuring Jordan Rakei, it’s a slow start with a slight build up, but it’s not what I would call a masterpiece.

All in all I would probably give “Caracle” a 7 out of 10 rating, it had the potential to be a 10 but I feel like the boys have played it too safe and repeated a lot of the same sound that could have been really innovative and new. It wasn’t an album that featured tracks I was surprised by, instead I was kind of thinking “oh, more synth.” I understand that Disclosure have a particular sound but sometimes it’s good to step out of the box and make something that really surprises listeners which they’re more than capable of doing. Hat’s off to them though, because they’ve produced some really solid material and I know there’s more greatness to come.

Disclosure – Caracal = 7/10

Hannah Crowe

This Weeks Music Video

This Weeks Music Video. -Featuring Cults with High Road, Janelle Monae feat. Miguel with Primetime, Albert Hammond Jr with St. Justice and Camera Obscura with Troublemaker

Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady Review

She’s been compared to the likes of James Brown to David Bowie already and she’s only on to her second album. Perhaps she isn’t at that stage yet but you can easily see she’s capable of it yet she’s her own character as well. She’s not one for being cast into norms both musically and stylistically and it’s always refreshing to see. The ArchAndroid was really an inspired debut for her and though it’s heaped with praise, you get the feeling that people in general have only took a passing interest in her. This mostly born out of her being featured in ‘We Are Young’ by FUN. which is frustrating considering her talent would far outreach theirs. But nevertheless she’s gave herself a hard task with her second effort considering the high quality of the first, but I find it hard to think it’s something she’s dwelled upon while making The Electric Lady.

‘Q.U.E.E.N’ oozes funky and soulful ease. It’s deep and repetitive rhythm riff with its vibrated twang at the end of each section is all that accompanies her vocal at first as gradually more synths and percussion joins in and backing vocals adds to the build up of sound. The second verse is just synths and bass which maintains the groove from the guitar. The next verse is just a collage of synth of sounds that leads into a build up of bass and guitar to the chorus. No part of the song has the same structure of instrumentals but the rhythm and melody was maintained with all parts. Erykah Badu joins in with a smooth transition to the songs conclusion. It develops into a bass and string ballad and a great rap from Monae which is lyrically more meaningful and profound than most things you’ll find from rap artists these days. Within it; there is still the tinge of a vocal there as well which improves it still. It’s a complex song in terms of the shifts in music and composition but she pulls it off well to create some funk-soul-electric-rap-ballad-pop beast delivered with style and boldness and how this song hasn’t charted better is well and truly beyond me. ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ is much more simple and upbeat with the focus on hooks and catchy melodies. Ukulele like rhythm section with percussion being placed above it and the bass matching it with a simple groove or stomp like hook depending on what catches your attention. There are a few moments from organs and synths too to add to the depth of the song. It’s set up for focus on her vocals which while not having a load of power behind them; can still hold their own and are smoother and easier on the ears as well. But the clue to this song is really in its title.

‘Primetime’ is the typical cool and smooth love song with the instrumentals revolving around a heavy groove from the bass line with a backing vocal taking up a role to fill up the sound but it remains very spacious and atmospheric even with the lead guitar riff ripping through it all which seems a little out-of-place put apart from that it works because it revolves around the vocals of her and Miguel and they both deliver. ‘Givin Em What They Love’ is a bit of grit about it moderately heavy, muted guitar and a bass that follows suit. There is a certain swagger and tenacity from Janelle’s vocals too. This lightens up when Prince starts his vocal. He sounds good performing the backing vocals but sort of sounds out-of-place at other times and could be used on a track like Primetime maybe as Janelle’s vocals are much more in sync with the music. That’s pretty much one of the few stumbles this album encounters as for the rest is on a par and even a development on ArchAndroid. However, the album is not as padded out to the same standard with every song. There are still some amazing tracks of varying styles and sounds and I don’t think she really has a bad album in her; but I wouldn’t mark it as highly as her first. But it’s still a bloody good album and she’s a great role model and figure about what’s good in the music industry and if this is her so-called difficult second album then the future looks very bright. Maybe she might live up to the comparisons sooner rather than later.

Janelle Monae – Electric Lady = 8/10

Images from thinkprogress.org / pitchfork.com