Releasing a studio album isn’t an easy feat, but cranking out an even better follow-up is the real test. Many artists’ debuts have risen to the challenge and exceeded the precedent set by their efforts. As for those that don’t, well, let’s just say that they tried.
In the case of Disclosure’s second release, “Caracal,” it’s a tad difficult for me to decide what to make of it. It’s not as transcendent as Adele’s “21” and is far from being as abysmal as anything Tyga has burdened society with after “Careless World.” It’s just an “OK” album.
None of the 14 tracks that appear on the listing recreate that same sense of euphoria that the track “Latch” did in “Settle,” the duo’s first album. Instead, the infectiousness of the music just seems to get lost in a never-ending sea of high-profile guest appearances and beat modulations that were only cool when Groove Armada used them in the ‘90s.
Despite the lack of single-worthy songs, there are a few highlights on the album. The Weeknd’s guest vocals on the opening track, “Nocturnal,” gave an otherwise average composition a much needed spark thanks to his powerful range that always seems to be peppered with just the right amount of sensuality.
“Superego” is probably the best-produced song out of them all, boasting a synth line that provides an effervescently pulsating backdrop for singer Nao’s lyrical Freudian analysis. “Omen,” which features Sam Smith, is pretty good too but honestly, Smith could record himself singing the ingredients of a Nutella jar and still give the world an eargasm.
On the other hand, Lorde’s work on “Magnets” was disappointing, mainly because it had the lowest energy out of all the other collaborations. Granted, Lorde’s forte isn’t necessarily to produce “high energy” dance hits, but she still has charisma that reveals itself within her soft-spokenness.
Disclosure muted that charisma by having her come in and record a bland track about a steamy, passionate affair; something that confuses me due to the fact that Lorde is only 18. Even the video, which was released Tuesday, was strange to watch considering it features multiple scenes of the New Zealand teen queen making out with some dude who looks like he’s 40.
That’s another story for a concerned parent to deal with, but the moral of this one is that “Caracal” can’t seem to recreate the energetic auditory experience that put Disclosure on the map. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth a listen, but don’t expect anything you hear to latch onto you and rise above the white noise.