disclosure-settle1[xrr rating=4.0/5]This past weekend, thousands of kids descended upon Chicago’s Soldier Field for Spring Awakening, one of America’s most prominent electronic dance music festivals. No doubt, some were there for the marathon dance sessions, some were there for the drugs and maybe some were even there for musical or spiritual enlightenment. Nevertheless, the throng of youngsters on the near south side testified to the fact that, for whatever reason, EDM has swept the nation.

It’s easy to see how EDM artists could energize a stadium full of people ready to party at a live event like Spring Awakening. The question remains, though, whether dance music has the ability in 2013 to make an emotional connection on record, where subtle song craft and sonic artistry jump into the spotlight. The UK duo known as Disclosure consists of brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence. At the frighteningly young ages of only 22 and 19 respectively, they have given us a bold, thoughtful dance record that works from beginning to end. Settle has the rare distinction of moving the body, the mind and the heart in equal measure.

While the brothers’ debut LP offers many pleasures that are revealed gradually, the memorable, wide-ranging melodies are apparent upon first listen. The duo employs the help of a number of established and up-and-coming vocalists to deliver their tuneful hooks. The female guests, such as AlunaGeorge, Sasha Keable, Eliza Doolittle and Jessie Ware, are particularly adept at adapting to Disclosure’s style. AlunaGeorge’s staccato vocal on “White Noise” naturally lies atop the brothers’ machine-gun-like production. Doolittle’s smooth delivery on “You & Me” transcends the shuffled dub-like groove in the background.

It should go without saying that the tracks on a dance record should be, well, “danceable.” Settle’s 14 tunes not only meet this basic criteria, but also give the audiophile much to dissect in between bouts of moving to the infectious music. “When a Fire Starts to Burn” elegantly uses a provocative spoken-word sample from self-proclaimed “hip-hop preacher” Eric Thomas. Orchestral string sounds fade in and out of “Latch” like an unexpected wave crashing upon a peaceful shore. “F for You” combines a gospel-tinged melody, disco beats and abstract atmospherics to create a montage of disparate sounds. “Stimulation” flows effortlessly into “Voices” so that you can’t tell where one begins and one ends. The record’s momentum only slows down for “Second Chance” and Grab Her!” tracks that lean more towards ambience than groove and feel slightly out of place.

Not only is the sonic concept of Settle well defined, the lyrics are praiseworthy in their commitment to some central thematic concerns. Disclosure’s album is about letting go of your inhibitions and giving in to powerful feelings, whether love, lust or simply the pull of a great groove. As one might expect of music that is so much about the body, sexuality plays a central role here. On “White Noise,” AlunaGeorge sings, “Lately I’ve been thinking if you wanna get tough/ Then let’s play rough.” On “Defeated No More,” Ed Macfarlane aggressively asserts, “Gotta let this fire keep burning/ Got to get it on.” But, the album also seems to be about running relentlessly towards one’s own identity. This is a concept that remarkably, given their young ages, Howard and Guy Lawrence have already made great strides towards mastering. If Disclosure’s subsequent efforts have as much passion and self-confidence as this first LP, their name will be revered in the dance music community and beyond for years to come.

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