Caracal was one of the most anticipated releases of 2015. Disclosure had burst onto the scene two years before, with the brilliant debut LP Settle and lead track “Latch”, which introduced the world to the undeniable Sam Smith and that those two hair raising, falsetto syllables, “Da! Da!” (You sang them in your head right now, I know you did).
With their sophomore record, the Lawrence brothers aimed for the same winning combination of sing-along top lines, rolling minimal house beats and superstar vocalists, the track listing boasting the likes of The Weeknd, Miguel and Lorde. It’s a recipe that had worked for them in the past, so what could go wrong?
Nothing. Nothing, is the answer. Nothing is wrong with Caracal. It’s just that we’ve heard it before.
With the exception of ‘Magnets’ (ft. Lorde), the tracks fit into two categories for me. Repetitive pop influenced sounds that were so familiar I thought “Omen” (ft. Sam Smith) was a cover, and R’n’B easy listening, with an Usher-esque quality that wouldn’t see them out of place as filler tracks on 8701.
Not only is Caracal reminiscent of sounds of the past, but of itself. One listen to the album in it’s entirely and the songs begin to bleed together, often falling too far into the familiar to hold my attention. Start “Nocturnal”, “Superego” or “Echoes” at any random point and it would be difficult to tell them apart. Wait, is that why it’s called “Echoes?” Mind blown.
“Magnets”, and the divinity that is Lorde, is the undisputed shining star of Caracal, with an offbeat rhythm that opposes the stunning rhythmic vocal for a track that is both mainstream and interesting, sexy and subtle.
All things considered, Caracal is a steady follow up to Settle, an enjoyable listen that monopolises on the success of 2015. Miguel croons “I had good intentions,” which sums up the whole thing almost too well. If Settle was Disclosure’s splash onto the scene, then Caracal is the boys calmly swimming in its success – no longer interested in taking risks, and happy to ride the wave of their winning combination. It’s still fun, and the guest vocalists keep the record floating well above the line of mediocrity, but with acts like RÜFÜS and Flume nipping at their heels I can’t help but think the time for playing it safe is over.
Perhaps they are victims of anticipation so high it’s impossible to meet the expectation, but it feels more like resting on their laurels. You know what they say, for every winning recipe there is a guy who’s tired of fucking it. That’s the quote right?
Review Score: 6.5 out of 10.
Caracal is out now.