Disclosure Double Their Fun: Inside the Duo's Second Album 'Caracal'

The U.K. dance group on their upcoming second LP, featuring Sam Smith and Lorde, and their fall arena tour

Howard and Guy Lawrence say their September album 'Caracal' is stocked with fully structured pop songs. Credit: Griffin Lotz

Earlier this year, Disclosure reunited with an old friend. As the English dance music duo neared the finish line on their second LP, Caracal (due out September 25th), they invited singer Sam Smith to come hang out at their new studio in London's St. John's Wood neighborhood. "It was really exciting, 'cause we hadn't seen him in so long," says Howard Lawrence, sitting next to his older brother and bandmate Guy Lawrence. "We had three whole days to hang out with Sam and write, which are two of my favorite things to do."

In the years since Smith sang on "Latch," Disclosure's triple-platinum breakthrough smash, both acts have rocketed to international stardom. You can hear how that journey has changed both of them in the new song they made together for Caracal — "Omen," a sleek, blissed-out anthem that might be the happiest-sounding track either artist has ever released. "He's definitely not lonely now," Howard says of Smith with a laugh.

Another highlight from the new LP was co-written and sung by Lorde, who dropped by their studio just a few weeks ago, when the album was virtually complete. "She turned up on her own, no management or bodyguard," says Howard. "That's the most equal collaboration on the record. You can really hear her sound — she has this sassy yet vulnerable thing."

Both brothers feel Caracal represents a new turn in their songwriting after their 2013 debut, Settle. "There’s not any really club music on this one," Guy says. "It’s all very club-influenced, because of the beats, but every song is like 'Latch' or 'White Noise' — a fully structured pop song."

To that end, they made sure to book in-person writing sessions with their vocal guests and their frequent co-writer Jimmy Napes. "The songwriting is the most important thing for us," Howard says. "I feel a lot of dance acts lack the cohesiveness that we can get." They explore this theme on "Jaded," a new song featuring Howard on lead vocals that takes aim at ghostwriters and other industry posers (though don't bother trying to get them to name names). "You meet more and more producers and you find out, 'You’re not really a producer, are you? You're just a monster A&R who puts his name on the record,'" Guy says. "It's weird."

This fall, Disclosure will launch their biggest U.S. tour yet, with an ambitious new stage design overseen by the brothers. "We've completely rearranged and reinvented everything," says Guy. "It's a really forward-thinking show. I've never seen anything like it." Each song in the set list will get its own visual treatment, with custom staging elements and video screens moving around the venue accordingly. "I like the idea that if someone tweets a picture at the start of the show, and someone else takes a picture at the end, they'll think it was a different show," says Howard.

They're most excited for their October 24th headlining date at Madison Square Garden — a major milestone for the Lawrence brothers, who grew up idolizing arena-scale prog-rock bands like Rush and Genesis. "My dad gave me a VHS of Led Zeppelin playing there when I was about three, and I used to play drums along to it," Guy says of the Garden. "So that's definitely going to be the most special for me." 

And while the redesigned concert experience didn't come cheap, they're not exactly sweating it. "We didn't get into this for the money," says Guy. "We’re not trying to scam people by just turning up and pressing play and then all these pyros go off that the venue paid for. I think that’s total bullshit. Everything you see on stage is ours — we own it. Hopefully it will pay off."

Howard laughs: "Fingers crossed."

"Yeah, fingers crossed," Guy continues. "But for us it's worth it. It's nice to know that everything the crowd is seeing is Disclosure. The only thing that's not is the floor you're standing on."