Disclosure

Disclosure

Country: GB

For their fourth studio album, Disclosure have taken things back to basics. Alchemy has no guest features and no major samples. They’re releasing it without a record label, and they don’t intend to tour it straight away. Instead, the focus is on the two faces behind Disclosure: brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence. On Alchemy, Guy and Howard embrace a new sense of freedom and expression. This is bold dance music that expands the definition of what a Disclosure track can be. Guy’s production embraces everything from jungle breaks and trancelike supersaw synth riffs to rapid tempo four-to-the-floor club tracks. Meanwhile, Howard’s ear for classic melodic songcraft is sharper than ever, and he uses his own vocals and lyrics more than any time before. “This record is a celebration of us feeling liberated right now,” says Guy. “We’re not signed. We’re not going to tour this record. We can do whatever we like and be super creative.” Yet to describe Alchemy as a simple and straightforward return to Disclosure’s electronic roots would be to ignore the deeply personal story of its creation. Alchemy was written while the British duo were at two very different points in their lives. On one hand, Guy was recently married and settling into a new home in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. On the other, Howard was reeling from heartbreak and exhausted from a 150-date tour. Alchemy was an obvious title: “There was this combination of deep heartbreak and sadness, but also deep admiration and appreciation,” Howard says. “Let’s turn this horrible feeling into something beautiful. The whole idea was to channel pain into beauty – which, in hindsight, is always the aim.” Alchemy reflects this spectrum of emotions. Musically, it’s warm, uplifting, and energetic – see the rapturous 143bpm bliss-out of “Sunshowers”, or the summery bounce of “Simply Won’t Do”. Yet Howard’s poignant vocal phrases add a bittersweet dimension: “Maybe… maybe we could be a little bit in love,” he sings on “A Little Bit”. There’s an acute humanity on display, captured in the intimate field recordings and interludes that give the album its impressionistic, diaristic, almost narrative quality: the gentle strum of guitar chords recorded on a phone, the sounds of a pet dog, the flight boarding call in an airport. “All our other albums were written in third person,” says Guy. “Before now, very few of our songs were about things that happened to us and our lives.” The album began life after Disclosure wrapped up the tour for their 2020 album ENERGY last year. Howard temporarily relocated from London to Los Angeles and began separately writing sketches, assisted in the studio by friends and collaborators Max Margolis and DonnyBravo. When Guy received the demos, he sat with them for weeks, allowing him to absorb them fully before adding his own touches. The process was then reversed, with Guy writing his own sketches – including on an early version of “Higher Than Ever Before”, written with the acclaimed songwriter Cirkut, which keen fans may have heard during Guy’s recent secret set at Glastonbury – and Howard working on them. Finally, they met up together in London to finish the record. This writing process was closer to where Disclosure started, harking back to their debut album Settle over a decade ago, albeit with the honing and refinement of their skills over the years. “With our last record, the emphasis was on finishing the tracks as well as we could. Whereas with this one, it was on starting them as well as we could,” Howard says. Alchemy’s album artwork also calls back to the brothers’ past while reflecting where they are in the present. The cover image is a photo of a tapestry, designed and created by hand by the textile artist Llinos Owen, that depicts Guy and Howard on Los Angeles’s Lexington Avenue during the making of the album. It’s the first time that the brothers themselves have appeared on an album cover since Settle. Disclosure released their debut single, “Offline Dexterity”, in 2010, when Guy and Howard were still teenagers. Today, Guy is 32 years old and Howard is 29. Their previous albums are Settle (2013), Caracal (2015), and Energy (2020). Disclosure have clocked up over 11 billion streams, sold over seven million albums, and collaborated with the likes of Sam Smith, Lorde, and The Weeknd. They have played major global shows, from a sold-out Madison Square Garden, to headline slots on Glastonbury’s Other Stage, Reading & Leeds, Parklife, and All Points East, to large scale sets at Coachella and Bonnaroo, plus packed out shows at Alexandra Palace and The Warehouse Project.

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