Settle was an unqualified success. Platinum, number one, and nominated for a Mercury Prize in Disclosure's native U.K., it was also Grammy-nominated in the U.S. "Latch," the album's propellant, primed vocalist Sam Smith for stardom. The Lawrence brothers subsequently worked with Nile Rodgers and Mary J. Blige, remixed Usher's "Good Kisser," and released a pair of club tracks that, more than anything else, showed that fame wasn't stalling their productivity. In May 2015, the garage-flavored "Holding On" -- co-written by Jimmy Napes, a contributor to the debut's three biggest hits -- appeared as the first proper single from the second Disclosure album. It neatly integrated additional songwriting input and a lead from Blue Note jazz vocalist Gregory Porter and, like much of what preceded it, was swift and full of friction yet measured and tasteful. Inferior second pre-album single "Omen" outperformed it, most likely because it featured Smith. The contrast between those two singles is a running theme on Caracal, where tracks featuring lower-profile vocalists regularly upstage those fronted by chart-topping stars. Smith, Lorde, Miguel, and the Weeknd provide the album with a lot of star power, not much else. The last-mentioned contributor, for instance, opens the album by singing 100% "on-brand" lyrics that seem generated rather than written -- so much so that they can be summarized as "vampire Weeknd" -- albeit with a thrown-in reference to the wild cat that inspired the album's title. The Lawrences' taste in upcoming talent and ability to assimilate it into their sound, however, is faultless. Fellow U.K. natives Kwabs and Nao are responsible for a pair of irrefutable R&B jams, the vocalists' turns recalling, respectively, James "D Train" Williams and young Deniece Williams atop some of the producers' most detailed and sumptuous work yet. The lighter cuts, most notably the one that features Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey, tend to stick with as much immediacy, and are as full-bodied as the slower numbers. Although the tracks rarely surprise, frequently falling back on familiar sounds and structures -- loping basslines and synthesizer shadings that escalate at the same tempo always arrive on time, for instance -- they're as well-built as those of the debut, and the Lawrences, along with their songwriting partners, cover the ups and downs of falling in and out of love in sharper fashion.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman