PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Disclosure: Settle

UK duo Disclosure marry familiar electronic touchstones to blissful pop vocals to make one of the year's best records.



Label: Island
US Release Date: 2013-06-04
UK Release Date: 2013-06-03

Settle, the debut LP from British brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, is as perfect a summertime houseparty soundtrack as we’re likely to get in 2013. If that’s what you’re looking for -- pure pleasure-center appeal -- you can stop reading, put the record on, and guiltlessly enjoy Settle on that level alone. But like all great pop musicians, Disclosure knows how to tongue around the edges of genre, subtly exploring a wide range of sounds without ever interrupting the dopamine stream at their music’s center. There are pleasures for the head here, too, along with the heart and the hips.

In a dance music world where it’s perfectly acceptable to make a career out of singles and remixes, Disclosure have clearly spent time crafting a front-to-back LP, one whose individual tracks work brilliantly on there own but that hits hardest when taken in one giant gulp. Settle isn’t a revolutionary album by any means, but its seamless integration of radio-ready pop and enough disparate strains of electronic dance music hurdles it miles ahead of the pack. The album’s touchstones are familiar -- primarily the glitched-out, woozy rhythms of UK garage and the strains of house music leading toward deep house -- and that familiarity makes for easy dancing and a breezy listen, particularly within the record’s fantastic sequencing. With that comfortable EDM palate, it’s the Lawrences’ gift for chart-friendly pop music that gives Settle its real power.

And that gift has already paid dividends: in the run-up to the LP’s release, three of Settle’s best tracks made waves on the UK charts: “Latch” (#11), “You & Me” (#10), and “White Noise” (#2). The formula here is simple: Disclosure marries its joyous, lush production with -- here it comes -- pop vocals. If you want a Top 10 audience to embrace your song, give them something to sing along with. The choices on Settle are a smorgasbord. Sam Smith puts in a show-stealing performance on the record’s best song, “Latch", over-enunciating every syllable on the verses and shifting suddenly into a soulful falsetto on the chorus. (The first time he hits that vocal shift leaves me dumbstruck every time; it’s just a perfect moment of ebullience.) Aluna Francis of similarly quickrising UK duo AlunaGeorge lends a girlish lightness to the dour lyrics of “White Noise”. Eliza Doolittle gives a surprisingly R&B-tinged performance on “You & Me” -- more so, actually, than R&B crooner Jessie Ware’s restrained but effective turn on “Confess to Me”. Aside from Smith’s bravura work on “Latch", the most emotionally evocative vocals belong to London Grammar on the record’s bittersweet, blissfully melancholy closer, “Help Me Lose My Mind”. Disclosure’s curatorial talents are at least as strong as its actual musical muscle, with Settle’s cast of collaborators always hitting their mark but never stealing the show.

All the songs here have one foot firmly planted in pop territory, but the tracks that reach further into club territory work just as well. “When a Fire Starts to Burn", with its looped vocal sample, might be the most potent gallon of dancefloor fuel on the record, while Howard Lawrence’s surprisingly smooth performance on “F for You” keeps things sultry enough for a particular kind of dancing. The album’s most straightforward house material, “Defeated No More” and “January", are immaculate, crisp slices of callback ‘90s-laced delicacies. Crucially, these songs blend with Settle’s poppier numbers with no trouble at all. It’s a sort of unfussy magic. We don’t always need the best dance record of the year to push the genre forward into unseen territory; it’s hard to see anyone besting Settle for the title in 2013, and it’s just as hard to argue we need much more from a record than the unadulterated joy pulsing through every beat here.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.