Album Review: Settle // Disclosure

Everyone appears to have ‘latched’ onto the 19 and 22 year-old Lawrence brothers, who perform as Disclosure. Not only did 2013 see them score a trio of Top 20 hits; it saw them play Glastonbury twice and be nominated for a Grammy: ‘Best Dance/Electronica Album’. Amongst their successes was the fact I enjoyed their live performance at Leeds festival. However, I suspect that the festival environment enabled the sheer repetitiveness of their material to escape me… sober, sitting alone in my bedroom, it’s hard to see what is special about this “ground-breaking” record. ‘What’s In Your Head’, general public?

The album is best summed up as being like a pizza. Yes, they both have bases (with ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ having a particularly downbeat ‘bass’ part) but that’s not the only similarity. I’m thinking if you ate pizza fourteen times in a row, even altering the toppings slightly, you’re going to end up extremely bored (as well as doing nothing for world obesity statistics).

‘Settle’ consists of fourteen very similar-sounding tracks that do nothing to push the boundaries of sonic territory. Sure, the toppings are changed slightly by adding synths or vocal hooks. But fundamentally, each track is still a pizza. The more you try and eat of the hour and thirty-seven seconds long album, the harder it becomes to stomach.

The variety of these ‘toppings’ is dependant of the smattering of guest artists who feature on over half the tracks on the album. The fact that this much of Disclosure’s creation is reliant on guest artists to disguise the bland flavour suggests how weak they are.

Further to this, the choice of artists that features on their tracks detract from claims that ‘Settle’ is “house” music; Jamie Woon’s involvement suggests that the record leans more towards R&B. Artists such as Jessie Ware are more familiar to the clubland scene and you might wonder what Eliza Doolittle is doing on such a record. Did she roller-skate her way into ‘You & Me’ or did the Lawrence brothers have her in mind when they built the track? The decision to co-operate with such a broad-reaching range of artists has resulted in an eclectic mixture of tracks that don’t quite gel together.

The brothers have mashed together the best features of electronic sub-genres in an attempt to convince the listener they are radically changing the face of dance music (when really, they’re copying and pasting the best bits), a fact which has not escaped my notice. Sure, Howard could play bass from an early age, and Guy plays drums, but so do lots of teens. What can be said in their favour – to their credit – is they do perform live, it’s not simply pressing play on a Macbook.

A further thing that can be accredited to the Lawrence brothers’ is the fact that they can create immaculate hooks; I’ve had ‘Stimulation’ in my head ever since I first heard it. But like most songs that have the capacity to stick in your head for weeks at a time (look no further than Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’); they also have the capability to become extremely annoying in a very short space of time.

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