Review Summary: Yet another British Indie-Pop band with a likeable, if overly familiar, debut.
Due to the laws of supply and demand, a specific musical genre will burst through over-saturation every five years or so. The eighties brought us synth-pop and hard-rock, it was grunge and nu-metal in the nineties, while the noughties are to blame for contemporary R&B clogging up the radio. Lately, one could add indie-pop to this list, especially if you geographically isolate the phenomenon to the United Kingdom. As such, if a band is not at the forefront of a particular movement, it is very difficult for an artist to significantly differentiate themselves from the pack.
Northern Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club are the latest in a long line of Indie-Pop acts, and while they do not exactly innovate, they know their strengths and predominantly stick to them. Clocking in at less than 35 minutes (and without a track surpassing four minutes in length), their debut album ‘Tourist History’ hooks the listener in and then gets the hell out of Dodge before it all gets too derivative and repetitious. Bass-driven opener 'Cigarettes In The Theatre' lays a nice foundation for what is to come, with the dual angular guitar work of Alex Trimble and Sam Halliday immediately showcasing the band's principal weapon.
Disappointingly, the first half of 'Tourist History' stumbles along awkwardly in striving for that elusive killer hook. In the case of ‘Do You Want It All?’, it even gets mind-numbingly annoying and repetitive. Thankfully, the LP is back-loaded and it is the infusion of synths at the album’s mid-way point which kicks it up to another level. Kudos should be given to producer Eliot James (Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party) who expertly merges together jangly guitars, buzzing synths and a propulsive beat, while still giving off a feeling of sparseness. The danceable melodies of album highlight ‘I Can Talk’ is the best example, while poppier lead single ‘Something Good Can Work’, the addictive guitar line of ‘What You Know’, and infectious closer ‘You’re Not Stubborn’, all display the same deft touch.
It may be a double-edged sword, but possibly the most exciting factor concerning ‘Tourist History’ is the room for improvement in Two Door Cinema Club. While there is the occasional clever lyric, nothing is too noteworthy and themes are often not built upon satisfactorily. Furthermore, the smooth – but too safe – near-falsetto of lead vocalist Alex Trimble (who can best be compared to Ben Gibbard & Thomas Mars) sporadically gets lost in the background of the superior musicianship. Despite adding a sense of cohesion to the LP, lack of variety is also an issue. The trio follow the bouncy and upbeat formula too stringently, leaving listeners searching for a ballad, or more moments such as the rock explosion at the climax of ‘Eat That Up, It’s Good For You’.
It is not at all difficult to immediately quote a long list of groups that have provided inspiration for Two Door Cinema Club. Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand may be the most obvious, but there are also nods to the likes of Foals, Phoenix, and Delphic, as well as American acts We Are Scientists, Vampire Weekend and Death Cab For Cutie. The bands debut album 'Tourist History' is clearly far from original, yet it ultimately wins listeners over with its immediate, enthusiastic, likeable and catchy mixture of ingredients, which results in a sound that is certain to have toes tapping from the pubs to the clubs.
Recommended Tracks: I Can Talk, What You Know, You’re Not Stubborn & Cigarettes In The Theatre.
I heard "Something Good Can Work" and "Do You Want It All?" last summer when they were floating around, and in the case of "Something," absolutely adored it for the first ten minutes I had it on repeat and never listened again. Your review has convinced me that I might need to spin the whole thing, good work.
yeah, it was definitely 'something good can work', i just listened to it again. the entire album is streaming actually and from what ive heard so far, this is a very clean, very smooth pop album. fun but i doubt i'll see much in it after a few spins!
edit - finished the stream, the stand outs are keepers. what you know is mega catchy. the singer sounds so gibbard too.
"is franz ferdinand indie pop lol" There or thereabouts. There's some indie & there's some pop. There's also some rock & post-punk revival, but genres should not go for longer than 2 words.
"not sure about these guys. they sound like a more poppy and simplistic version of Foals" I'd say definitely poppier, but unsure if they are more simplistic. Even if they are, it helps the catchy/poppy factor.
"got this a while back and it was a lot of fun for a few spins. didn't really get boring or anything, just had much other things to listen to, so i'll give this another go later" Fair summation Matt. It hasn't exactly got me to listen to it consistently since I wrote the review.
"Enjoyed the album, but not really going to be something that gets played often. Solid but at the same time, so much better music to listen to at the moment, don't see this staying on my zune for long." Another fair summation. Glad to see you agree on the rating.
"These guys are from my home town." Did they do the local rounds before striking it big?
"good review as ever davey. i ll probably end up hearing this at some point" Thanks Ali. I think you'll like this for the most part. It's Franz'ish.
"lol the gibbard comparisons are so valid" Darn, the more I think about it, the more I should have written more about it.
Give it a listen LG. I don't think you'll rate it any higher than a 3.5, but you won't hate it either.