Released: June 11, 2013
I had a phase in high school when I would visit my local public library to borrow CDs. With limited liquid capital available to me, this was a perfect way for me to inexpensively expand my musical horizons beyond what I could hear on the radio. The CD collection at my branch was modest but it certainly contained some gems. That library brought OK Computer into my life so it holds a special place in my heart. Its also where I acquired an As-Seen-On-TV collection of 80s/90s dance music called PULSE! that contained dance-floor anthems like “Rhythm of the Night” by Corona, “Rhythm is a Dancer” by Snap!, and “What Is Love?” by Haddaway. With all of the rhythm and punctuation, I was entranced.
10 years and 3 computers later, I’ve long since lost the music of PULSE! but when I put Disclosure’s debut album Settle on for the first time I was transported back to a simpler time when I was just discovering the ecstatically uncomplicated pleasures of EDM. I dare you to listen to Settle and not dance just a little bit. Its one hour and forty-nine seconds of ceaselessly danceable music that pairs energetic 120 BPM rhythms with a casual sense of self assuredness. Its a level headed and mature approach to the medium and though it lacks the bombast of PULSE! it certainly borrows some its moves. Disclosure manages to take clean electronic percussion and seemingly outmoded synthesizer washes, and infuse them with elements of dub step, progressive house and pop music to create something fresh and original. Settle is more minimalistic and reserved than mainstream EDM but its still explicitly focused on getting you out of your seat and on to the dance floor.
While implausibly both familiar and inventive, Settle does feel a little lopsided with most of the best tracks coming in the first 20 minutes. The rest of the album rarely falters and manages a consistent groove but lacks the jubilant power of earlier songs like “Latch” and “White Noise”. Certain songs end up sounding like b-sides of some of the aforementioned PULSE! artists and though I can’t blame Disclosure for sticking with a consistent aesthetic, they do rely perhaps too heavily on particular palette of sounds and rhythms. For the most part it works well for them but it does get repetitive at points. However, the repetition is broken up nicely by the variety of guest vocalists that appear on the album.
Focused and meticulous, Settle is perhaps strongest debut album of the year and features some absolutely stellar dance floor grooves. Its a fresh, enjoyable and understated album despite its flaws and I’m sure it will be in my rotation for the rest of the summer though I unsure of its lasting power. But regardless of whether history forgets or canonizes this album, Settle feels just right for the summer of 2013.
Top Tracks: “Latch”, “White Noise”, “Confess to Me”