Has Disclosure’s ‘Settle’ reinstated the UK’s love of house music? – Album Review

What ‘house music’ has become over the past few years really has been a convoluted affair. With genre off-shoots still falling under the ‘house’ moniker (dubstep, dance, EDM, even electro-pop etc), it’s become increasingly hard to identify what exactly should be classed as ‘house’ and evenmoreso, what should be confined to the dustbin basement of music.

Unfortunately, over the past half-decade, the world-over has been gullible into believing that all you need to make house music is essentially a David Guetta-esque beat, overlayed with some vocals that make zero sense at all. We’ve also seen the popularity of house music (in its current form) shape the way of cross-genre, with the likes of Usher laying down his R&B hat (the hat that made him a musician to enjoy in the first place!) to compensate his credibility with in order to grab a top chart position.

This global phenomenon (should it be called that?) has even landed its way to this side of the pond too. As an example, Jessie J’s highly-anticipated new single Wild (which is so shockingly bad that we’re not even going to contemplate a review), is so reliant on this ‘speed-dance hysteria’ just to attain the coveted top-spot that it seems the old Miss Cornish, whose edgy vocals on debut Do It Like A Dude heralded a new wave of pro-feminism, is nowhere to be seen… also, why do you even need two rappers on the track? [That’s a different discussion altogether, mind!] And then that brings us onto Dizzee Rascal (who is one of Wild‘s featured artists), an artist that set the bar so high in terms of the UK’s urban scene with Boy In Da Corner, but has bowed to marketing pressure to find that that initial sparkle has totally been extinguished.

It’s seemed that the term ‘house music’ is about 5ft under-ground – close to death but something’s grabbing on to it to bring it back.

Fortunately for real house music fans, that ‘something’ seems to be coming from Britain, and whilst it’s been bubbling for the past 18 months or so, it’s now that there seems to be a saving grace. Two UK production houses, Rudimental and Disclosure, seem to have taken what house music is today, turned around and said “fuck that shit“, and put their heads down and come up with some spectacular sounds that could just resurrect house music into a genre more substantial than it’s been since, well, the ‘death’ of real UK garage in the early-to-mid 2000′s. Clearly the UK’s desire for something fresh was non-more acknowledged when Rudimental’s debut album Home soared to Number 1 in the UK album charts in its first week of sales alone at the back end of April 2013.

It’s here that we take a closer look at Disclosure’s forthcoming album Settle, released this week.

The production outfit, made up of Surrey-based brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, have managed to work a severe hype over this record since album track Latch (featuring Sam Smith) stormed its way into the hearts of many in the last quarter of 2012. They’ve been working social media just like it should be – engaging with fans, placing their tracks on Soundcloud for global availability pretty much as soon as they’re aired…. they even released a Facebook app [The Face] to stimulate excitement by getting their fanbase to do their advertising for them (the app focuses on making your own face ‘Disclosure-esque)!

Anyhow, whilst digressing off the subject, the point had to be made that there’s been sheer hard work from Disclosure in order for them to get to this point.

When A Fire Starts To Burn, which Disclosure premiered on their Soundcloud almost two weeks ago, opens the album; a track which oozes ‘wallops’, funk, and sounds pleasantly reminiscent of Mrs Oizo’s Flat Beat 14 years ago… feel old? It then moves onto Latch, which, at a time when we’ve probably heard every single disambiguation of love songs, heralded a comfortable different perspective. It’s also probably the closest to ‘pop’ you’ll find on the album, but that’s no bad thing… it’s the kind of piece you need as a second album track to slowly ooze you into Disclosure, and what they’re all about.

The album continues with latest Soundcloud release F For You, whilst the duet with British two some AlunaGeorge on Number One smash White Noise brings to a close the first of three parts to the album.

Whilst not going into a track-by-track review, the full album oozes sophistication, and literally grabs an upbeat genre by its head and turning it into a completely new direction. For garage lovers, you’ll find plenty of gems (the Eliza Doolittle duet on You & Me, whilst newcomer Sasha Keable makes her mark on the phenomenal Voices). There’s collaboration aplenty on this LP – Jessie Ware’s addition on Confess To Me is nothing short of spectacular; if you’ve ummed and aaahed about buying the album, this will definitely tip you over the edge. It’s also incredibly pleasing to be hearing Jamie Woon on something upbeat (on January)- he’s an incredible talent that seems to have passed people by.

All in, this is an absolute gem of an album. Whilst house music may have been just a tad closer to six-foot-under than anyone would have liked, Settle is a pure work of art that will, hopefully, cement the resurrection into a feel-good genre for many years to come.

Wayne Baxter