Release Date: Sep 4, 2012
Record label: Glass Note
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Tourist History is a tough act to follow. Indie-rock trio Two Door Cinema Club’s 2010 debut had all the makings of a pop-perfect album; each song was a pleasant combination of clear, upbeat vocals and irresistible rhythms. Now the band is back with Beacon, and the album is anything but a sophomore slump. Where Tourist History’s every song was overflowing with hyper energy, Beacon takes the time to slow down.
One of the reasons why the debut album by Northern Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club is so well loved is its impressive breadth. ‘Tourist History’, from 2010, sounds like the best bits of a particularly cool teenage boy’s record collection. There’s a hint of Bloc Party’s stadium-packing squall on ‘Cigarettes In The Theatre’, a little of The Futureheads in the frenetic vocal harmonies of ‘I Can Talk’, the ghost of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard in Alex Trimble’s waifish vocal emoting.
Review Summary: A wise and predictably executed follow-up in all the right ways.For any reviewer required to provide a numerical rating - and with a preference to write something a little more detailed than a three sentence blurb - Two Door Cinema Club's likeable, if overly familiar, indie-pop debut LP 'Tourist History' was a frustrating assignment. While one could easily argue that it was a one-trick pony, that equine was one hell of a charming and infectious one. Single 'I Can Talk' may have contained an opening refrain which sounded like a five year old had forgotten the remaining three vowels, but it was difficult not to chant along to its "I-O-I-I-O" hook.
Two Door Cinema Club's boisterous gigs belie the shy, understated young men on stage. Similarly, and like 2010's successful debut, Tourist History, Beacon combines uplifting electro pop with introspective, melancholy undercurrents. The likes of Wake Up, a cocktail of Delphic/Bloc Party electronics and youthful energy, explode with such enthusiasm you can almost hear the sound of curtains being hurled apart.
Two Door Cinema Club returned with Beacon after a couple of years touring in support of their debut album, Tourist History. While that set of songs was already pretty sleek thanks to the production skills of Eliot James, the band opted to polish things further with the help of Jacknife Lee, who has worked with R.E.M., U2, Snow Patrol, and plenty of other epic-sounding artists. With Lee's assistance, the band made Beacon a more sophisticated-sounding set of songs: witness the clever chord changes and harmonies on "Next Year," the more prominent electronics on "Wake Up," the intriguing percussion on "Pyramid," and the big brass swells on "Sun," which make the song a knowing nod to the band's '80s influences.
In just about every interview with the three Irishmen who make up the Two Door Cinema Club, they mention that they’re not trying to be a part of any music movement or scene with their polished brand of electropop/rock; they’re just trying to be their own favorite band. After two years of circling the globe in support of 2010’s Tourist History, the indie outfit is back with sophomore effort Beacon. The transition between the albums feels almost seamless, which will undoubtedly raise a partition between those that are thrilled to have Tourist History part two (a little heavier, a little deeper, a little better) and those that hoped the band would leverage themselves into something new and interesting.
Danny Boyle's decision to hand one of the songs at the Olympics opening ceremony (Caliban's Dream) to Two Door Cinema Club's frontman Alex Trimble suggests that the Northern Irish trio's time has come. In truth, while their second album is polished, thanks no doubt to U2 producer Jacknife Lee, there is nothing to distinguish Two Door Cinema Club from several other excitable indie-disco bands. Their debut, Tourist History, was endearingly odd but, Sun aside, Beacon is prosaic and frenetic, its tireless synths and fidgety guitars unable to camouflage the group's dearth of ideas.
Before I begin writing anything about the music, the album art for Irish electro-rockers Two Door Cinema Club’s sophomore album, Beacon, is terrible. Not only does it desperately want the same shock value as The Strokes’ album art for Is This It, but the suggestive placing of a light fixture in between the model’s legs is just embarrassing. Not only is the concept ridiculously adolescent, but it’s ill-fitting of Two Door Cinema Club.
The trio’s second album arrives well-equipped to do some serious damage to the charts. Al Fox 2012 Northern Ireland trio Two Door Cinema Club are in an interesting place. The cliché of the “difficult second album” often comes off the back of a stellar debut performance. However, the dents in the chart made by debut offering Tourist History, both in the UK and Ireland, were barely noticeable.
After 2010 debut album Tourist History, North Irish synth rockers Two Door Cinema Club slotted in at every major festival. Sophomore slump hanging in the balance, Beacon opens strong atop "Next Year," anthemic pop perfect for both the dance floor and as a fist-pumping concert closer. After that, the album quickly lags. First single "Sleep Alone" tires quickly, showing no evidence that Two Door Cinema Club has grown at all.