I will not undersell the success that is Disclosure. They made it. These dudes are on top and ahead of the scene, leading the way like Washington crossing the Delaware. They’ve released constant heart stoppers, booty poppers, ear whoppers etc. The Lawrence brothers have (nearly) single handily pioneered the fusion of pop and electronic post dub/club music, but most importantly it sounds good. In a new age of bedroom producing and starting a career from a laptop, Disclosure is not unique, but their success may be. With all that said, it’s worth noting what they really have accomplished a year after their ultra-success sprang from Settle and to see what is next for Howard and Guy as their Disclosure project enters the stratosphere and beyond.
To start, one should go back a couple years (Oct. 2012) to their premiere of the instant-classic “Latch.” Yes, there were a ton of tracks prior to this mega hit (“Control feat Ria Richie”, “I Love… That You Know,” “Flow,” “Blue You,” etc), but they can’t match the magnitude of the group’s first chorus-heavy release. The track peaked at number 11 on the UK charts but its inertia continued all the way to the album and even current date being the most played Disclosure song on popular radio. Virtually the same time of release was the song’s official music video on the web, which meant the world had access to the UK sound of club and pop and it could hence go viral. Fast forward to today: “Latch” is Disclosure’s most popular track; the track’s featured singer, Sam Smith, kick started his own music career, recently releasing a debut album, his own US tour and infinite access to wherever the Lawrence bros get to go; when I said infinite before, it is infinite x 2 for the amount of remixes “Latch” has underwent from lesser known producers of the Soundcloud; a Beats By Dre presents Latch: beat by beat; shall I go on? The point that should come across is that, realistically, a large part of Disclosure’s prospering comes from this track alone. I’m not upset though, because that track is still hot 2 years after it dropped.
What else has Disclosure accomplished in the past year? Well you could say their album Settle was something. False; it’s more than something. It’s amazing. I’ll admit that I am biased (this album should have won the Album of the Year), but really this is a true marvel. It won’t win the popular vote when it comes to the general audience, but of the millions who enjoy electronic, dance, soul, and even some pop, this is a shoo-in. I wouldn’t have ever used the term shoo-in but I’m willing to let it happen. The album, if you aren’t familiar, features Disclosure-typical house and garage club beats synthesized with pop and soul vocals. Singers known well throughout the UK such as Jessie Ware, Ed McFarlane of Friendly Fires, Eliza Doolittle, Sasha Keable (who is gaining traction outside the UK with some recent releases), London Grammar (also making it big), Jamie Woon and AlunaGeorge were all featured on the album and quickly created the classic tone and catchiness needed to make a platinum record. In fact, the addition of these lovelies is imperative to Settle’s ultimate success because without them you have a boring house album (respectively) which might seem repetitive if you aren’t into that sort of groove.
Luckily, the producing duo was smart and skilled enough to write tracks showcasing each and every one of them to make their banging tunes relevant and take it outside the club, but only if you’re progressive enough to bump in the average car stereo. I did so for at least 3 weeks upon release (which was June 3, 2013 if you were wondering). If you were a veteran Disclosure fan upon release, then you can admire the lesser known tracks just as much as the hits, like “Intro,” the super thick precursor to “When A Fire Starts To Burn,” “Second Chance,” which was actually one of Howard Lawrence’s oldest songs, rewritten for the album, “What’s In Your Head” and “Defeated No More.” The balance of Chicago house, deep electronic, soul and garage all placed together in one album turned into an eargasm and I feel the creators were pleased with the results and reactions. Stated in the official album interview, Settle was created to embrace the idea that nothing stays the same, and much like their music which had taken many turns throughout their production, nothing was the same nor will be.
Now, post-album release, Disclosure has made it into the big leagues. More or less with the album release did their name blow up along with house music. The club is the place to be and they are the ones DJing, so it’s only natural order that Disclosure’s name gain weight in terms of notoriety. Before, Disclosure had only gone to the major US cities (New York, LA, Miami) and the major festivals to do mini sets, but never at the scale that they perform now. A world tour ensued the fall of 2013: the UK and Europe first followed up by a complete US trek. The album allowed for live instrumentation and vocal performances for the shows and with a massive repertoire of tracks to choose from Disclosure hit it hard. Disclosure even made it to Dallas, which sold out weeks before the date, and needless to say I and many Radio UTD personnel got to experience. The live set had grown to new heights, featuring an animated, iconic FACE that sang along to some tracks and eerily bobbed to the rest, massive LED panels for effect, fog machines (a must) and the perfect layout for the Lawrence brothers to allocate each instrument. If you are able to, find pictures/videos of their setup a year prior; it’s dramatic and you’ll be surprised. Along with touring, the brothers decided to formulate a festival series all around the world to showcase their musical idols, collaborators and influences called Wild Life. It has proved to be a major success and man I wish I could attend just one.
A quick look at some singles released post-album are also impressive. First was the dense house track “Apollo,” the first to be released after Settle perhaps to maintain the perception that Disclosure has the interest of making dance tunes. That charted. “Together,” the massive collab between Sam Smith, Jimmy Napes on production, Nile Rodgers on guitar and of course Disclosure, was the most under-appreciated release to date. Transitioning into 2014, Disclosure drops an interesting production of Bishop Nehru’s chilled rap single “You Stressin’.” R&B legend Mary J. Blige reached out to the duo in February to collaborate and ended up doing a special rework of “F for You” with Blige’s vocals integrated. More recently was the heavy roof raiser “The Mechanism” with Friend Within and lastly was the intricate rework of Pharrell’s “Frontin feat Jay Z.” In this sequence you can notice an interesting trend in their work, a certain production style of upbeatedness and intense wub-factor (similar in “Together” and “The Mechanism”). That alludes to an interesting piece of news.
So what is next for Disclosure? The single-releasing game seems promising; each song dropped on the Soundcloud and every video accompanying only adds to the franchise. And on top of all that, the brothers are continuously traveling between gigs, across oceans even, which is no doubt time consuming and tiring. Well, in a Billboard Interview Howard stated that the two will drop off from touring and partying to work on their second album. That was by far the best news of 2014, which was given in March. So expect another selection come 2015, but who knows when exactly. Disclosure doesn’t even know. The first album came on accident anyway; the album was called Settle because they just settled on naming it. It’s exciting to see what they can conjure up. However, I feel a repeat dance album may not work. I have faith in the two, but another full loaded LP of discos just makes me tired thinking of it. And the remarkableness of Settle still hasn’t worn off on me. Maybe it will eventually.
I can’t exactly sum up this piece because I already summed up most of Disclosure’s career. Just know that Disclosure is a huge blip on the music radar, inspiring hundreds, maybe thousands, of producers and DJs to keep it alive and actually bring the musicality back to grooving. Can anyone top their success? Maybe. There’s a decent gap in time between now and the next album; anyone can change the game. But not exactly the way Disclosure has.