What Makes Disclosure’s ‘Settle’ So Great?

Some musicians get chic by remembering the ‘90s; others, like Disclosure, were simply born then. Guy and Howard Lawrence, two brothers maybe too young to be called millennials (Guy just turned 22, Howard 19), have found themselves the frontmoppets of what’s an omnivorous and huge dance crossover in the UK of late. Hit after No. 1 hit on the British charts belongs to relative newcomers amalgamating UK funky and original-flavor dubstep a couple years ago to turn-of-the-century crossover garage and ‘90s house, both mainstream and not — and on Settle, they’re “newcomers” in the sense that they were in pacifiers at the time.

Disclosure aren’t pioneers, exactly. This sound has been bubbling up for some time, closer and closer to the mainstream: here the doyennes of cult British radio station Rinse FM like Katy B and Jessie Ware, there the fellow revivalists like Rudimental and Duke Dumont, all unanimously praised. But Settle and its singles (“White Noise” featuring Aluna Francis of AlunaGeorge, “Latch” featuring Sam Smith of half these revival acts) represent by far its most populist moment, and it’s made Disclosure a bit of a bellwether. Do these kids have any right to this music, and is it any good? Mostly it depends on how you listen. Settle is structured as a dance set — fiery crowd-pleaser to start, hits to the front but not at the front, languid middle stretch, comedown at the end. It’s very possible to listen the whole way through, in the club or out in the beer garden; there’s a reason this was released at the tip of summer. It’s also possible to fall down a K-hole of authenticity and genre one-upmanship, the music itself becoming so much — well, white noise. But Settle’s best experienced neither as an album nor as a referendum on any genre current or classic, but simply as a collection of great moments. Here are a few.

Disclosure are great because: They love their sounds. Whenever anyone talks about “White Noise,” their No. 2 breakout single, the first thing they mention is the hook. It’s a  peppy, dingy keyboard riff like motor oil seltzer. It’s mixed nearly as loud as vocalist Aluna Francis is; it bursts even more to the front on the chorus; it’s nagging, obsessive, bright then dark as the narrative demands; it can’t stop, won’t stop.

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