Brotherly duo Disclosure has been on quite a run over the past two years, offering an output of singles and remixes that seemed to get better with each new edition. Now, the pair of young Londoners has issued the first extended document of its production talents, The Face EP, which, across four tracks, proves that songs like recent a-side "Tenderly" and the duo's super-slick Jesse Ware remix were no flukes. Disclosure has found an almost irresistible middle ground between pop-minded club music and house-indebted bass music, and—with this EP as our most substantial indication yet—the duo's flood of quality material appears to be holding steady.
Initial efforts found Disclosure's stylistic aim morphing and evolving with each release, but more recently Disclosure appears to have settled into a sound. Granted, a few hints of the post-dubstep influence that marked the pair's early productions remain, namely in the form of click-clack, swung percussion, chords touched with a palpable sense of mood, and the occasional pitched vocal snippet. But beyond that, very little of Disclosure's past remains on this EP. The first three tunes float between 119 and 125 bpm and utilize a four-on-the-floor kick drum to anchor the proceedings, while the final cut, "Control," lays down a funky, 2-step drum pattern and pushes the tempo just beyond 130 bpm.
While The Face's drum programming is nothing short of stellar (especially when Disclosure flexes its talent for assembling intricate percussion patterns), it is really the musical aspects that make these tunes so rewarding. Whether it's an effortlessly natural gift or a methodical process that developed over time, Disclosure has an undeniable knack for crafting infectious songs that are simultaneously soulful, jazzy, and remarkably accessible. In particular, the chords and bass on The Face stand out as the pillars of this hybrid sound—opener "Boiling" lets its bassline roll and turn in the open slots as floaty chords circle above, while "What's In Your Head" and "Livid Up" present much more syncopated rhythms between their warm organ chords and rounded basslines. Due to the strength of these progressions (and their occasional melodic accompaniment), Disclosure bears comparison to fellow UK bass/pop-smith SBTRKT, in that both acts have found a way to mix what works in the club with what works for a larger iPod-oriented audience without sacrificing their stylistic integrity. In doing so, Disclosure seems likely to be a group that acts as an intermediary between the two worlds, serving to bring a crowd of people to the UK bass and club-music world that otherwise may not have ended up there.
That said, this EP is not flawless, meaning that there are still a few bones worth picking with The Face. First of all, one can't help but notice how similar these four tracks sound—they share almost identical sonic elements (housey organs, gliding chords, smoothed-over bass) and a similar mood that exists somewhere between soulful liveliness and R&B-style contemplation. In fact, if this EP had gone beyond its 20-minute run with another track along the same vein, it may have been too much of the same. Fortunately though, Disclosure keeps it short and sweet, preventing those similarities from feeling overworked or needlessly redundant before the EP is through. The vocal contributions which bookend the EP are also a bit underwhelming; although Sinead Harnett's appearance on "Boiling" and Ria Ritchie's contribution to "Control" don't take away from the songs, they also are not particularly engaging, leaving one to wonder how effective they'd be over tracks that weren't so strong to begin with.
Regardless of these minor issues, The Face EP is as strong of an official debut EP as any group could ask for. In truth, Disclosure has put together an effort on which every song is likely to receive its share of dancefloor spins for grateful audiences, all while still leaving plenty of room for the duo's talents to keep growing. Oh, and given that the two brothers' collective age still doesn't add up to more than 40, it's safe to say that Disclosure's future continues to look bright.