Guy and Howard Lawrence, the duo that is Disclosure, have trained themselves to go big or go home. Starting out in the minor leagues, the duo impressed straight from the get-go. Their debut album Settlerejuvenated a new state of UK garage and house that elevated the scene all around the world. Providing a unique flare, Disclosure managed to play with the big dogs, as with their sophomore album Caracal, took them to the major leagues.
Five years has passed since their all-star pop exploration of Caracal, the album that boosted collaborations with the likes of The Weeknd, Lorde, Miguel, and Sam Smith – since then they’ve been on a voyage around the world, experimenting and learning with sounds and cultures across the globe. Now they’ve made their final stop into the world they like to call ENERGY. Disclosure complete their made-in-voyage that took nearly five years in the making, and along the way they’ve made some friends.
Opener “Who Knew?” finds 90s and 00s icon, Kelis, join the unpredictable world that the duo creates. The collaboration is as natural as it gets, an organic sounding tune that sonically aims at working precisely with their palette. Follow up “Lavender” with Channel Tres boosts a slick, breathy dark-dance flow. Undeniable standout “My High” which features Aminé and Slowthai is a hip-hop meet house extravaganza that is fast-paced and never loses a beat.
Other highlights include the Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara assisted “Douha (Mali Mali)”, “Who Knew”, the title track, and “Birthday” featuring Kehlani and Syd, a sound that proves that both R&B acts need to experiment more on their own music.
But it stops there, Disclosure attempt to stop at their tracks and water down the soul from Settle on tracks such as “Who Knew?” featuring Mick Jenkins, and awkward interludes that just sound unfinished. The album also ends with an inspirational Common feature that sounds way too PG.
ENERGY is a glimpse of a duo who are attempting to mature and have passed the time of creating massive festival ready bangers and reinvent into a new style of sound. While they get it right for 75% of the album, Disclosure lose the spark of euphoria that made what they do so special. Guy and Howard Lawrence overthink too often, and moments on this album show that they’re willing to learn and but also still have fun doing so at the same time.
It’s not the fact that Disclosure claims fans expect them to make another “Latch” it’s the fact that Disclosure think they have to make another “Latch”. They themselves tried to recreate that hit on Caracal with “Omen”. On ENERGY, they know their strengths but put too much pressure on themselves to try to prove that they can reinvent once again. Songs like “My High”, “Lavender”, “ENERGY”, “Douha (Mali Mali) are proof that they’re at their best when they just have fun.