No difficult second album syndrome here, then.
Caracal (it’s a “rarely seen desert lynx”, apparently) is the two years in the making follow-up to Lawrence brothers Guy and Howard’s opening shot Settle.
It’s a measure of how far they’ve come in the intervening two years that whereas Settle featured then-relative unknowns, Caracal can call on Lorde, The Weeknd and Gregory Porter as well as again enlisting the help of Bond-theming global superstar Sam Smith, the sole survivor from 2013.
Although it has its fair share of lesser-known lights – step forward Jordan Rakei, Nao and Lion Babe – it’s no surprise so many big names want to work with them. They seem to have the ability to bring out the best in their collaborators, Kwabs sounding far more soulful on his one track here than he does on his own debut.
Musically the brothers’ dexterity at switching from one style to another, while always making a noise which is distinctly their own, is still present and correct.
The effortlessly euphoric Weeknd track, Nocturnal, kicks us off brilliantly and more than an hour later (should you buy the deluxe edition, which you really should), we’ve progressed through banging house (the aptly titled Bang That), soul (Masterpiece and Willing and Able), Beyoncé-like r’n’b (Superego) and angrily punchy pop (the fantastic single-in-the-waiting Echoes), dropping in acid house and electro introspection along the way.
Like this? Try these: Jamie XX, In Colour; Various Artists, Acid House Anthems
By Andrew Greenhalgh