Prepare the dancefloors: Take a dive into Disclosure's new album, ENERGY
At times, the album - which features Kelis, Aminé, Channel Tres, slowthai, Kehlani, Syd and more - feels like a Disclosure masterclass.
Disclosure are an act that at this point, go beyond the need for an introduction. The UK brothers are heavyweights of international electronica; favourites of the UK club world turned into juggernauts with the release of their debut album Settle - one often-considered amongst the greatest electronic records of recent times. Their second record Caracal took their blend of commercial house to another level, while the littering of songs since have deepened their sound in a round-about way, with nods to their original, UK garage-aligned sound brought forward into the current day.
Today, however, comes the start of their new chapter: ENERGY. ENERGY, the house duo's guest-filled third album, sits somewhere between the refined dance polish of Settle and Caracal's confusingly busy tracklisting, capturing the constantly evolving production skills of Disclosure and marrying it with a long tracklist of stars that could easily build their own festival lineup: Kelis, Channel Tres, slowthai and Aminé, Mick Jenkins, Fatoumata Diawara, Blick Bassy, Kehlani and Syd, Common and Eric Thomas, the latter of which's voice re-emerging on the album's title track after being infamously sampled on When A Fire Starts To Burn.
The end result, as you'd maybe expect, sits somewhere in the intersection of Settle and Caracal, exploring new pathways - the album features multiple rappers, the first for a Disclosure release - while keeping the rest in track, furthering their sound while also sharing subtle nods to their past. It's versatile too, pulling from Disclosure's long list of influences and sounds to build a record that can move across tribal Africa to UK rap at the drop of a hat, thrown in amongst the sampling of Chicago house and the groove of UK two-step.
Its first half is heavy and strong, coming close to eclipsing the most triumphant moments of Settle. The Kelis-featuring opener Watch Your Step is one of the duo's liveliest pieces, as to its following track, the Channel Tres-assisted Lavender. They're two songs which show what Caracal kind-of missed the mark in doing, in a way: fusing acts outside of the dance realms - Kelis especially - with grooves that amplify their natural tones, instead of over-riding them and dominating the soundscape.
My High - the song featuring hip-hop powerhouses slowthai and Aminé - shows how Disclosure master this best; Disclosure's ricocheting production bouncing of the buoyancy of Aminé and slowthai, perhaps two of the only rappers who can match Disclosure's energy. Fatoumata Diawara's re-arrival (she also featured on Ultimatum) is another highlight, as too ENERGY, which as mentioned, revives another familiar face to Disclosure's discography in the form of gospel preacher Eric Thomas.
However, the album's second half is where the record moves into more Caracal-like grooves. For the most part, it's more softer and subtle than its opening, with the Fractal Interlude - an instrumental doused in hip-hop grooves and sensual funk - bookending a slower side of the album (with the exception of ENERGY) that ties into the brothers' roots in soul and R&B. It's hard to feel as hyped about the album's second half due to its subtleness comparative to the first half, but the album still strikes gold at times.
It's interesting how a track such as Birthday, Disclosure's long-awaited pairing with Kehlani and Syd, shows this divide in the space of just a few minutes. The original version of the song is honey smooth; Kehlani and Syd moving amongst a fluttering beat that has Disclosure at their most stripped-back, giving the vocals the room they need to really groove into place. The VIP edition of the song, however, feels like what it could've been if the production was weighted just as heavily; Kehlani's vocal pitched up to match a more disco-aligned production that makes it more like a Disclosure song, rather than a Syd and Kehlani collaboration with a bit of a house underlay.
Either way, the duo's really step up to the next level on ENERGY, and it promises a real sense of longevity, especially when held comparatively to Settle, which arrived ten years ago now. "It’s such a privileged lane that we’ve found ourselves in," says Guy on the record. "It’s great that we can play to 20,000 people and then go and play a dark, sweaty rave. We just want the most amount of people to have the most amount of enjoyment. We can’t wait to do it again and again when the time comes."
Take a dive into the album below:
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