Disclosure: Settle (PMR Records / Island)
I’m from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Fuck everyone. I did not even realise there was backlash to this album until like a month ago.
Do you remember the first time you heard that sample in ‘When A Fire Starts to Burn’? That was a shot heard around the world for good reason. The dissidents argue that it is too lame, it is too formulaic, and it is designed for the mainstream. I would argue that most of my favorite dance music is inherently lame. The 80’s house jam ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ by Farley “Jackmaster” Funk immediately comes to mind. It is built on a vocal delivery so earnest and forceful that it begs the audience for acceptance. The horn exclamations sound like they were taken directly from a Batman cartoon. If dance music is not the time for lameness than I am not sure when the time is. Would the lyrics on ‘White Noise’ or ‘Confess To Me’ be acceptable if they sounded detached and on a rock song? Definitely not, but Disclosure is in the field where this should be applauded. It is the definition of cheese. One song is made up entirely of the lyric “grab her.” I don’t care how cheesy something is if it gets the bodies moving. The album is formulaic. Almost every song is heavily influenced by 2-step and garage. However, the subtle differences between songs, pop-hooks, and attention to detail create perfect moments. Most of my favorite musical moments of the year occur on this album. When the synths collapse and reform with the beat on ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’ after the breakdown? I lose my shit, and the dance floor rejoices. ‘Defeated No More’ churns along for 5 minutes before it halts the beat. That halt gives the rest of the song propulsion. It has made this slow burner one of my favorite songs on the album.
This album was designed for the mainstream. It is a glossy pop-album. If you are not interested in earworms, do not listen to this album. The vocal turns are infectious and varied. Sasha Keable meets the slinking beat of ‘Voices’ with a sultry, disaffected vocal. Jessie Ware belts over the grime inflected chorus of ‘Confess to Me’. The pacing of the album is excellent, and it feels brisk. Dance music generally has trouble in the album format because of its repetitive nature. Disclosure can use similar pads and drums, but they still manage to subvert this problem due to their ear for pop sheen. I am not going to be able to bring the skeptical UK dance crowd to the light, but I am not concerned. When it’s 4AM and I’m screaming ‘White Noise’, I cannot hear the haters.
Words: Harrison Daubert | Illustration: Peculiar Man