The British Invasion Continues with Disclosure
It’s been over 50 years since Beatlemania caused mass hysteria amongst teenagers thirsty for a musical revolution. The floppy-haired foursome crossed the Atlantic in their “trojan horse” of pop-rock music making the parents of Boomers shake their heads and plug theirs ears in disapproval as they exclaimed, ‘the British are coming, the British are coming…again!’ From The Rolling Stones to David Bowie, an army of English artists lead the “British Invasion” that would give birth to an American counterculture. While giving credit to the major influence of African American R&B, soul and jazz pioneers, these English artists produced a new and distinctive sound that still captivates American audiences to this day. Just in the last decade, cross-over artists like Amy Winehouse, Estelle, Adelle, Jessie J, and Sam Smith (to name a few) sing in such a way that we often ask ourselves, what the hell are they putting in the water over there?
In the company of those artists are brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence of the electronic duo Disclosure. Having just released a new album in September 2015 called Caracal, the Grammy nominated musicians have embarked on a world tour to spread their techno gospel, and their fans are getting saved one track at a time!
Many of us can thank Disclosure for introducing Sam Smith to American audiences with the hit single “Latch” off their 2013 debut album Seattle. Mr Smith returns on this new album along with a Who’s Who list of powerhouse artists like The Weekend, Lorde, Miguel and Gregory Porter. Traces of old-school 90s techno are present throughout the album, satisfying the club kids eager to keep “Paris Burning” with their homage to voguing and the use of oversized fans snapping open and closed to punctuate the beats. Far from the typical “unce, unce, unce” heard in club music, these songs have strong melodies and surprisingly substantive lyrics that elevate their electronic framework. I get the impression that Disclosure wants us to dance and get lost in the upbeat tempo, but through the booty-shaking and step-touching, they also want us to learn something about the universal truths of love and loss. It’s as if each song was inspired by an Oprah Life Class or Iyanla Vanzant worked as a creative consultant on the lyrical messages. After listening a few times to songs like“Super Ego,” “Good Intentions,” “Jaded,” and “Moving Mountains,” where lyrics like “…such a shame, time for me to make a change, with what you’ve shown, maybe you’re just another stepping stone,” one starts to wonder who exactly wronged these brothers and to what extent?
As I briefly mentioned before, there are some masterful collaborations on this album with lead vocalist like The Weekend on “Nocturnal,” Lorde on “Magnets”and Sam Smith on “Omen” but luckily the brothers voices are not out-shined, proving the overall dexterity of their musical talent. Slow and sexy tracks like “After Thought” and my personal favorite “Masterpiece,” (a song that easily could’ve been a single off Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 album) balance the weight of the beloved club bangers causing the listener to go deeper into lyrical contemplation.
From start to finish, Caracal serves as the next installment in a 50 year tradition of soulful sounds created across the pond. Whatever they’re putting in the water over there, this American listener certainly hopes they never stop.