There is no denying that it is a seriously bad time to be releasing music for most house and electronic music artists in 2020. With increasing governmental pressures around the world to suppress any kind of dance music event going forward, with no rave or festival visible on the horizon, illegal dance music events carrying a heavy penalty of up to £10,000 in the UK – one must take Disclosure’s third studio album ‘Energy’ with much-needed kindness and give discount in contrast to the critics’ opinion that the album has been released at a ‘less opportune moment’. Unfortunately, this will be a narrative for most releases coming in the year and thus, we must acknowledge the talent, time, and hard work that the Surrey-born brothers have invested into the 43-minute album.
“We wrote 200 songs and funneled it down to the 11 of our favorites”, the boys explained during their private playback session just the day before. Most songs were collaborated in Los Angeles with a whole mixture of recognized industry names such as Kelis, Kehlani and Mick Jenkins, and a whole new entourage of fresh talent with the likes of Chanel Tres, Blick Bassey, and Slowthai.
The album features a mixed bag – what you would expect from award-winning musicians with songs touching on various aspects of music including some dance music chart vibes from ‘Watch Your Step’ featuring Kelis that was written with her in LA, followed by some early 2000s radio house music vibes from ‘Lavender’ feat. Chanel Tres, adding some homage to RnB and garage influences with Syd and Kehlani on ‘Birthday’ and taking some songs over to a tribal journey with Blick Bassey.
“Bassey speaks French, however where he comes from in Cameroon there’s around 260 native languages. Often times the languages change between themselves and scat around[…] When a certain sentence came out, we asked “What’s that? What does that mean?” and Bassey casually explained, “Nothing… it just sounded good”. So we jammed and free-styled with his voice. While he was scatting around using his voice as an instrument it gave us the opportunity to focus on the tone and melody instead of making sense of it all”. The result: a sensual low-key trippy jam accompanied by smooth African vocals. Another highlight, ‘Who Knew?’ incorporating the recognizable Chicago hip hop voice of Mick Jenkins takes on a new ‘unorthodox’ structure to Disclosure’s usual way of producing, further exploring Jenkins’s more sensitive version of his vocals, intertwining with some garage notes and revisits the duo’s earlier recognizable style of music.
Among the other tracks, there was a welcome touch of interludes to break up the journey with sweet grooves that resemble the California sunset boulevards. As this album is admitted to be the shortest and sharpest of all three, the duo live by their ethos to “Never do the same thing twice” and therefore have navigated away from their familiar sounds that brought them to fame in 2013.
Disclosure’s ‘Energy’ is now available. Stream and buy here.