Album art for Disclosure’s ENERGY.
By MK Saye and Robert Mohr
NOTE: This is a review of the deluxe version of ENERGY, which includes songs from their 2020 EP Ecstacy, two remixes of “Birthday,’ and two songs with Khalid (“Talk” also appears on his 2019 album Free Spirit, while “Know Your Worth” is a 2020 single)
MK: Though I know it’s difficult, try to remember the days when a “party” wasn’t an event that happened over Zoom. This duo, Disclosure, reminds us of those ancient days in their new album, ENERGY. Like its name suggests, there is a great deal of energy in this album; one who has become used to the quiet life of quarantine might argue that there is too much. But, for those who deeply feel the absence of a good party, this album isn’t a “remember when” as much as an assurance that parties won’t become extinct.
This album starts off with a few songs definitely geared towards the club experience. “Watch Your Step,” featuring the timeless voice of Kelis, is upbeat and will make you want to “dance like (you’re) alone.” Though this song really best fits in a club environment, and it deserves a sacred spot on any party playlist you have.
In “Ce n’est pas,” Blick Bassy, a native of Cameroon, mixes the beautiful Cameroonian language with a more subtle background of beats.
“Birthday” combines the two silky voices of Syd and Kehlani in the first song of the album that isn’t a club song, but still achieves Disclosure’s goal of being reminiscent. Resembling “Nights Like This,” “Birthday” is a trademark Kehlani song complimented not only by the lovely Syd but also by the somewhat flowery electronic sound added by Disclosure.
“Reverie” is a simple two-verse rap by Common who takes this album in a new direction with the powerful message of not letting “the world take it out of you.” This collaboration shows that while Disclosure specializes in upbeat club music, they are not ignoring current events.
ENERGY is primarily an album meant to be casually listened to at a club. However, there are songs that prove exceptions to this and so I would encourage a listener to be patient. This album is not just for the wishful party people, but for the activists (listen to “Reverie”) and even for the people trying to figure out quarantine relationships (listen to “Birthday” and “Talk”). If anything, listen to it and consider playing this at your next Zoom party— and know that this time won’t last forever.
Rob: ENERGY is a substantial album in its deluxe form, 20 songs in total for an hour and 22 minutes of play time. I think EDM (that’s electronic dance music if you were wondering), more than most genres, can be difficult to pin down. A quick internet search of what subgenre Disclosure falls into will prove that. Are they garage? House? Deep house? Shallow house? Garage house? Future bass? Future funk? You might think I made those up, but they are all legitimate EDM subgenres. In a 2013 MTV interview, Disclosure (a duo) described themselves as “pop songs written in the production-style of house.” Honestly, I don’t know what that means, but I can tell you this, Disclosure makes what I call club music (fast tempo, electronic drums, synthesizers).
I’m not a big “house” fan. The fast tempo and less prominent bass don’t really entice me. So for me, the best songs on ENERGY are the ones that don’t sound like normal Disclosure (think Settle’s “Latch” and “You & Me”-their two biggest songs before this album-as my taste). I can appreciate that it’s well made and understand why other people enjoy it, but it’ll never quite do it for me.
So let’s look at the oddballs! The “Fractal” and “Thinking ‘Bout You” interludes are both phenomenal bits of chillhop (you know, the “study beats”) that demonstrate a musical range and outright production ability. Like MK, I really enjoyed “Birthday,” it’s more of an R&B slow-burn and the album is better for it. “Tondo,” featuring Eko Roosevelt, brings a powerful groove with its horns, while still keeping the energy high. Both songs with Khalid (“Know Your Worth” and “Talk”) make for a solid finish to the album.
There’s also a lot of rap features on this album, which is something that Disclosure has wanted to implement for a long time (they wanted a rapper on Settle, but couldn’t find anyone in time). slowthai continues to prove himself as the future of British rap along with Aminé on “My High,” Mick Jenkins delivers on “Who Knew” and the legendary Common makes an appearance on “Reverie.”
At curtain call, Disclosure’s ENERGY feels a bit forgettable. For a five year hiatus, I think I expected a bit more from the album. There’s no bad songs and everything sounds right, it just lacks flair. To be blunt, those two chillhop interludes are probably the only songs from ENERGY that I’ll remember in 6 months. Maybe that says more about my taste in music than the strength of the album, but it’s tough to argue with the fact that Disclosure’s most popular song on Spotify is their collaboration with Khalid from his album.