Disclosure – ‘Alchemy’ Review: The brothers go back-to-basics

Disclosure – ‘Alchemy’ Review: The brothers go back-to-basics

It’s astonishing to believe that a whole decade has passed since Disclosure revolutionized the landscape of British electronic music. Their journey began with the release of the EP ‘Offline Dexterity’ in 2010, followed by ‘Tenderly/Flow’ in 2012. However, it was their debut album, ‘Settle,’ released in 2013, that propelled them to overnight festival headliner status.

While praised by DJ Mag for their distinct house and garage sound, which stood in contrast to the rising EDM scene, the album also produced massive crossover hits and significantly boosted the careers of artists like Sam Smith (‘Latch’), Aluna (‘White Noise’), and Jessie Ware (‘Running’). Alongside Daft Punk’s retro-throwback ‘Random Access Memories,’ Disclosure offered a glimpse of a bold future in electronic music.

Now, a decade later, the Lawrence brothers, Guy and Howard, have returned to some of their foundational roots for their fourth album. In a surprising move, they independently released ‘Alchemy,’ which boasts no samples or guest vocalists.

Instead, Howard takes a more daring and personal approach, using his own vocals and contributing more of his own lyrics. This artistic decision proves to be mostly successful, as the album embraces a back-to-basics ethos while exploring new, uncharted territories.

As they celebrate their ten-year journey, Disclosure’s ‘Alchemy’ marks a moment of artistic growth and introspection, demonstrating their ability to continually evolve and push boundaries within the electronic music scene.

With this release, the brothers reaffirm their position as trailblazers and pioneers in the genre, leaving fans excited and intrigued for what the future holds.

In the creation of their latest album, ‘Alchemy,’ the British duo Disclosure found themselves at contrasting points in their lives. While recently-married Guy was settling into a new home in Los Angeles, Howard was dealing with heartbreak and exhaustion from an extensive 150-date tour. Despite these emotional challenges, they aimed to transform their pain into beauty through their music.

‘Alchemy’ can be seen as an album of two halves, reflecting a wide range of emotions. Warm sonics and bittersweet lyricism intertwine, exemplified by tracks like the trance-leaning singalong ‘A Little Bit’ and the diaristic field recordings in ‘We Were In Love,’ where acoustic guitar strums and a pet dog provide comforting sounds in the background.

One significant difference in ‘Alchemy’ is the emphasis placed on production, showcasing the duo’s growth in their craft. Rather than relying heavily on big-name artists, the beats take center stage and shine throughout the album.

From ‘Higher Than Ever Before’s jungle breaks to ‘Go The Distance’s rubbery synth lines and the pulsing energy of ‘Simply Won’t Do,’ each track offers a unique sonic experience.

The album’s pace strategically slows down at the halfway point, with the gospel interlude ‘Someday’ serving as a palette-cleanser. Cleverly using rainfall as a narrative device, Disclosure reflects post-breakup sadness on ‘We Were In Love’ and creates an atmospheric mood with thunderstorms on ‘Sun Showers.’ The meditative yet forgettable ‘Purify’ briefly interrupts the ambiance.

Adding depth to the album, tracks like ‘Brown Eyes’ with its robotized vocals and ‘Talk On The Phone’ featuring ’90s R&B boyband-esque vocal styles showcase the duo’s versatility and exploration of new dimensions.

While ‘Alchemy’ covers vast ground in just under 38 minutes, the album’s overall cohesion might feel slightly lost due to the sporadic vibe changes.

However, given the personal circumstances in which it was created, this may have been intentional. One thing is evident: Guy and Howard are reveling in their newfound creative freedom, pushing boundaries beyond expectations.

In conclusion, Disclosure’s ‘Alchemy’ showcases their evolution as artists, and despite its occasional lack of coherence, it remains a compelling and adventurous musical journey. Fans can appreciate the duo’s willingness to experiment and delve into their emotions, making ‘Alchemy’ a notable addition to their discography.

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