Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Disclosure broke onto the scene at the top of their game. In 2013, their debut album, Settle, bucked the popular electronic music trend of building intensity and bass drops, instead melding dancefloor burners with pop sensibilities. Almost overnight, the brotherly duo of Howard and Guy Lawrence became worldwide trendsetters, with their wildly popular single “Latch” even introducing the music world to the now nearly ubiquitous Sam Smith. By promoting a sound that would shift the electronic music zeitgeist, Disclosure has prompted a bevy of imitators in the last two years, whipping up the anticipation for their follow-up album to nearly unachievable heights. Indeed, Caracal will likely sate the thirst of Disclosure’s fanbase, while otherwise doing little to advance the artistic vision of the brothers Lawrence. The biggest difference between Caracal and its UK chart-topping predecessor can be found in the departure from head-bobbing beats in favor of a more R&B-informed approach. There are no outright bangers like “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” and even the brand of chirp and throb from “White Noise” is in short supply. Instead, the sophomore effort often slows things down and focuses on the many notable featured guests, who include such major draws as the Weeknd, Miguel, Lorde and (once again) Sam Smith. If you’re a fan of soulful voices at the expense of beats and innovative electronic, then Caracal is a must-listen. This glossy record drips with emotive vocals. Settle featured such a fresh sound that it’s easy to forget how closely aligned Disclosure is with pop music. Caracal leaves no doubt. Lorde’s contribution on “Magnets” makes for an especially glaring example as the New Zealand songstress breathily delivers trite lines like “Let’s embrace the point of no return” and “Pretty girls don’t know the things that I know” while backed by the kind of bland synth washes and loping beat that could be found on any Top 40 radio station. Meanwhile, opener “Nocturnal” pushes a decent bass beat deep into the background so the Weeknd’s sterling vocal pops, but the track sounds more like a vehicle for its featured guest than the duo with its name on the cover. Smith turns in a serviceable, if unremarkable, performance on “Omen,” a track that’s already getting millions of YouTube views but won’t be remembered nearly as fondly as “Latch.” Elsewhere, British singer-songwriter Kwabs helms a heavily-reverbed and slowly-paced “Willing & Able” that could make for some decent bedroom music, especially when paired with the similarly slinky “Good Intentions,” which features Miguel. The only place on the album you can find anything resembling the electronic salvo of Settle’s “When a Fire Starts to Burn” is the throbbing 20-second interludes between New York neo-soul outfit Lion Babe’s vocals on “Hourglass.” And the album’s highlight is clearly first single “Holding On,” which features a virtuosic performance by jazz singer Gregory Porter, even as his manipulated voice fades in and out with one of the livelier beats on this otherwise relatively subdued record. With more A-listers in the mix—and the rather gimmicky approach of tying together the visuals on their YouTube music videos into an interconnected storyline— there’s the sense that Caracal is packed with distractions to hide the fact that there’s nothing especially innovative about any of these songs. We can’t expect Disclosure to drop a game-changer each time they release new music, but Caracal feels like a step back from the vanguard of a movement, casting Disclosure as simply another pair of talented producers among the fray.