Column by Abbey Maynard
For the rest of the semester, I’m going to be going back through the year and reviewing some of the albums I’m predicting will be on these superficial, though captivating, lists.
First up, the debut album from a British electronic group, Disclosure.
Disclosure is likely to appear on the “Best Of” lists for a variety of pretty good reasons.
They’re a particularly young group — the brothers are 21 and 18 and have been recording together since 2010.
They’ve made a great cross-over dance pop record that gained a tremendous amount of radio play in the U.K. and even some here with their single, “Latch.” (P.S., if you haven’t heard “Latch” yet, go do it. Now.)
Bottom line: They’re young, they made a debut record that didn’t suck, and it managed to make a lot of noise outside of the dance pop realm. It’s bound to gain attention.
“Settle” also managed to avoid a lot of the pitfalls of their genre. With dance pop, a trap that a lot of groups slip into is the “all songs sound the same” phenomenon. Disclosure doesn’t have this problem at all. They prevent this from happening and still manage to retain a unique and identifiable sound by taking advantage of collaborating with a variety of other artists.
It would have been nice to see a bit more of Disclosure in the lyrics, but hey, it is dance pop after all. There really shouldn’t be high expectations for the musicians to be highly involved in singing and lyrics. Though they do demonstrate that they can, and will, sing.
My favorite track on the record is “When A Fire Starts to Burn,” and that’s all Howard and Guy.
The record is pieced together brilliantly, though there are a few parts that bother me. First, for the bad. The album is stacked in such a way that the collaborations and tracks that aren’t collaborations are placed with their respective groups.
Though the transitions throughout the record are dazzling and usually smooth within the subsections, moving between the subsections can sometimes be a bit disruptive.
Now, for the best part. The record is absolutely hypnotic and positively disruptive.
The Lawrence Brothers seems to be keenly aware that dance pop is a difficult genre to get inside of and they offer a way to combat that precise difficulty. They use disruption — sudden changes in lyrics and beats — to continually remind the listener that dance pop is music, too. There are moments of hypnosis, but it doesn’t last because Disclosure wants us to uderstand that it’s not music just for spacing out and doing drugs, there’s lyrical resonance and musical integrity.
In some ways, “Settle” acts as a stand-in for something bigger than a cross-over record made by some young guys from the UK.
It is a reminder that it can sometimes be exciting to exit our comfort zone in music. There’s a great big world of music out there, and if we can only escape ourselves, we can find it.
Maynard is a English and study of culture and society double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org