Disclosure Pack a Raging Party With Illustrious Guests Into Their Latest Album ‘Energy’
Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence have managed to tap into a collective ethos, releasing dancefloor bangers one after the other under their moniker Disclosure. They carry a distinctive vigor and verve that made its mark upon their debut album, 2013’s “Settle,” and has resonated steadily ever since. Their latest album, “Energy,” rings like a statement long brewing. With a few albums under their name, and the confidence that comes with that, the Lawrence brothers are all beats and business, with an entourage of guests that play to their instincts, creating a seamless party soundtrack.
There is absolutely no time wasted on setting a mood or building up to a feeling. The first sound on the album is a sprightly beat that hastens to the dancefloor, with razor-sharp kicks and snares and frayed synths that cut immediately to the most heated hour of a rave. Kelis takes the mic, and alternates between a bubbly diva chorus and coy speaking. The refrain of “You make me watch your step when you move” could hardly be better suited for a party, meaning many possible things and ultimately nothing at once. The music remains high-octane fare on “Lavender,” with hand drums and elaborate breakbeat extensions, Daft Punk-esque funk flourishes, and woozy vocals from Channel Tres, whose designedly sloppy swagger complements the unscrewed and slanted percussion.
The party rages on with “My High,” which features Aminé, rapping in a distorted slur, over the festive backdrop, that recalls N.O.R.E. and the Neptunes’ 2002 track “I Came to Party.” Slowthai makes an appearance and propels the track in another direction, rapping with a spastic UK fury. A welcome lull follows in “Who Knew,” which keeps the beats coming, but abstracts the display through skewered phasers, and moderates the sound through the soulful stylings of Mick Jenkins, over an insistent two step backbeat. The music takes on a global dimension upon “Doucha (Mali Mali,)” which features Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara, essentially paying homage to her homeland, switching between languages, and sticking to a distinctly African melodic phrasing, as the Lawrence brothers mutate her voice and the backdrop into colorful shapes.
Considering that DIsclosure is a DJ duo, all of the guest features can become a bit laborious, and a lone excursion like the interlude “Fractal” comes as a breath of fresh air. Fresh, wispy, wonky, and off-kilter, the track strikes like an Adult Swim commercial, and provides some relief at just the moment when the action-packed entourage was starting to seem oversaturated. Cameroonian singer-songwriter Blik Bassy eases the sound back toward the forefront, with silky, soulful vocals that come overlain on El Dorado cowbells and all the works on “CeNest Pas.” By the end, he has erupted into an African chant, as flangers build and burst into a hard-hitting beat that strikes like the triumphant, overdue realization of musical ideas coyly hinted at earlier.
The title track finds Disclosure reuniting with hip-hop preacher Eric Thomas, who defined 2013’s “When a Fire Starts to Burn.” There is a long tradition of dance music sampling evangelical vocals, tapping into the passion of preachers, and spinning it into vibrant dancefloor bangers that straddle the line between irony and sincerity. Thomas speaks with an energy and conviction that calls for a beat behind it, so a song like this comes across as an overdue gesture, and a natural fulfilment, with Thomas’ declarations spurring on busy beats, and creating a seamless dance floor abandon.
The album is consummately sequenced, with tasteful pauses coming right after the rather exhausting overload of a party track with Eric Thomas at the helms. “Thinking About You” fits the old school soul of Tarantino-style camp to clipped, glitch-hop beats, and provides a welcome relief from the raging party theatrics. At this point, a mellow track is overdue, and Disclosure deliver grandly with “Birthday,” featuring Kehlani and Syd. The lights dim, the beats stutter and slur elegantly, and the overall picture drifts into a distinct sonic sphere, with a syncopated drum shuffle, and breathy vocals that carry Disclosure into an unprecedented realm with a slinky, soulful slant. Kehlani and Syd contribute volumes, and the duo riff off on their energy in an entirely synergistic, becoming manner.
The final track, “Reverie,” features rapper Common, whose distinctive voice is itself an invaluable contribution, although his quick raps and pauses can seem a bit hokey. On the other hand, the whimsical structure of the song serves as a sort of disclaimer, letting listeners know that even when Disclosure hire a slew of illustrious artists, they play by their own rules. The song dissolves into fountain frills, starts back again, and repeats, with a cool disregard.
Disclosure recruit a crew of illustrious guest features on their latest album, yet never seem like they’re trying too hard. Every feature seems like a natural invitation, and ends up serving the songs In a way that speaks to Disclosure’s skill as curators and auteurs, of sorts. “Energy” is such a raging dancefloor dissipation that it can come across as a bit of a joke. On the other hand, this is its greatest attribute. As the plague constrists people to their dwellings, and stagnates life as we know it, Disclosure moves forward, with their hands effortlessly on the pulse, and the music speaks for itself.
“Energy” releases Aug. 28 on Apple Music.