Artist: Two Door Cinema Club
Genre: Indie, alternative
Label: Kitsuné/Glassnote Records
Two Door Cinema Club have exploded in my neck of the woods (they are my countrymen) over the past couple of years, although they’ve never figured very prominently on my mp3. Moreover, the incessant use of their music on hipster telephone ads cemented their position as little more than an affable indie band in my head. Yet, there’s an incredible amount to love about this band – and don’t mistake my habitual indifference for distaste. TDCC offer a fresher take on a very particular sound, one that has become swamped with posers and posturing over recent years. All musical genres have this problem ingrained to a certain extent, but there’s something about the stylised hip of indie that makes it so much more susceptible to it. TDCC however infuse their music with a distinctive authenticity, something precocious and bold that makes them stand out amongst their peers. There’s a very real sense of resonance, of storytelling and experience. The uniquely dulcet tones of Alex Trimble are a testament to this – they’re inherently Irish (no matter how different we are, we all sound the same), and steep the music in an endearingly glassy innocence. Between this enduring talisman and the mischievous musical quirks, TDCC have forged a fine reputation and their stock will benefit further from Beacon.
It has many of the same characteristics as its predecessor, Tourist History – it’s melodic and kooky, with hidden depths. It is, however, possibly more removed. There’s less of the youthful urgency to this, though the band continue to relish in artistic flourishes throughout. To my ear at least, it seems more stoical and introspective, the tracks laced with dwelling and thoughtful prose. Some songs are as harangued and raw as ever, but others are particularly dreamy – even for a band with such a well-honed, sleek sound, this is almost ghostly. The cutthroat frenetics of the tougher songs contrast with these and often sound fuller and richer, although they require the elegance of the slower songs to give the album depth. This is what I would consider to be quite safe as a sophomore album – enchanting in a very distinctive way, more mature and rigorous, but nothing like a stark departure. The band have embraced their sound and refined it, as opposed to striking out into more unexplored territory.
Beacon does take a while to come alive. “Next Year” and “Handshake” are marked by a very particular kind of lyrical moroseness that my country seems to have mastered. It’s something about the bass lines and haunting greyness of the vocals; it steeps the record in an early stupor. Yet, these sullen touches contrast beautifully with the silky sounds elsewhere – harmonies, electronics, and reflective interludes affording the tracks a breathless, animated quality. “Wake Up” is the first song to really shine, unfurling its colours in vivid glory during the chorus. The sumptuous guitar work and piercing vocals give the album a bite and character that it had previously lacked and make it more intensive and grounded. “Someday” takes things up a notch, a riveting song that sprawls with energetic instruments. Trimble sounds thoughtful and disengaged, his vocals tempering the excitement of the music and lending the track a freer, unbridled air. There’s an exquisite sense of rebellion and adventure to this track that makes it effortlessly catchy – it’s less self-aware than its predecessors, and endears itself suitably as a result.
The mixture of styles comes to a head in “Sleep Alone,” a romanticised and mysterious song that showcases hidden depths in Trimble’s voice. There’s something electric and epic buried between the lines, heightened by a gorgeous orchestral swell towards the end. Likewise, the female vocals and string elements on “The World is Watching” add shrill undertones to the kaleidoscopic music. “Pyramid” is a delightful little gem – filled with undercurrents of mischief, it sparks and fades with pensive verses. The chorus adds gravitas in the form of a sharpened guitar, which darkens and roughens the sound, before “Beacon” ends the album on a sombre, cutting note.
Beacon is a polished and accomplished album that makes up in style what it lacks in innovation. It’s a moody and thought-provoking listen and showcases the band’s talent for subtle quirks. Not the most groundbreaking thing you’ll hear all year, but easily one of the most enjoyable.
Review written by Grace Duffy