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. As one-dimensional as it was catchy, a delicate balance was necessary to communicate both its lack of diversity, yet thoroughly delightful nature. On the flip-side, the review for the Northern Irish outfit's follow-up 'Beacon' almost writes itself: a wise and predictably executed record in all the right ways.
In attempting to avoid the notorious "second album blues", Two Door Cinema Club choose not to reinstate Eliot James (Kaiser Chiefs) as producer, instead utilizing the services of Jacknife Lee (U2, Silversun Pickups), whose crisp, spot-on production is undoubtedly a strength of 'Beacon'. Strikingly beginning with exaggerated electronics, many could be forgiven for thinking that Lee has influenced the trio to have made the switch to chart-baiting electro-pop. However, that incorrect notion would be ignoring the debut's value-adding latter half synth infusion. What has noticeably been adjusted this time around is the tempo, with only 'Someday' replicating the upbeat and urgent energy of 'Tourist History'. This means more importance is placed on crafting Beacon's melodies, with numerous tunes carrying a danceable quality which not only makes it difficult for listeners to keep still, but does so in a manner that does not batter them with repetition and monotony.
And what of that jangly, angular dual guitar-work of Sam Halliday and Alex Trimble which captured the attention so satisfyingly on 'Tourist History'? Well, they initially appear to have been dialed down markedly, but in reality are still omnipresent, playing their role within the fuller sound evident here. Most importantly, those guitars merge seamlessly with synths and a sublimely subtle use of horns to the point of sounding completely natural, while the beats - whether programmed or via live drumming - constantly hit hard. All the while, lead vocalist Alex Trimble now delivers an assured croon, rather than over-relying on his near-falsetto, which had previously strayed off-key on occasions. Furthermore, Trimble now has absolutely no issue supplying tunes of varying tempo and style, as exemplified by the jazzy 'Sun', tropical sounding 'The World Is Watching' and the verging on ambience of 'Settle'.
In one sense, 'Beacon' is not entirely dissimilar to its predecessor. And in another, it feels like the work of a completely different band... Still undeniably Two Door Cinema Club, yet a matured version with a greater attention to detail. With the arguable exception of its closing triumvirate - which do not add a great deal other than some effective Kevin Baird bass-lines - 'Beacon' is a more even, consistent and cohesive LP than 'Tourist History', even if it does not reach the same individual heights. Where the album ultimately succeeds is in its song-craft, with everything from its diversity and song structures clearly improving, without significantly forsaking the trio's effortlessly catchy and engaging melodies. How 'Beacon' will age is still to be determined, but it is the refined record which Two Door Cinema Club had to release for the sake of both consolidation and advancement. At the very least, the dreaded sophomore slump has been successfully averted.
That's a bit personal to air here Rosco... How about this album; What do you think of that?
Stephen, your sound-off needs a "foot in the door" reference. ;-) Understand where you're coming from mate, but until they fully decide which way they want to take their sound, I think this is the perfect 2nd album for them. Having said that, the lyrics didn't do a great deal for me. I didn't really feel the need to mention them in the review though.
... But in all the right ways Gyro.
I think most people around here will like 'Sun' the best... But it's the catchy 'Someday' for me. The chorus of 'Handshake' does rule though.
Oh no, it's a good second album. It shows that they're all for fuller sounds and not just a one trick pony. They've adopted they're old sound into a new setting really well but the lyrics are just... I can't let them slide.
Ignoring the whole "who isn't derivative these days" argument, they're definitely not reinventing the wheel Ali, but I think they do what they do very well... So their success definitely does not irritate me.
I guess part of it all comes down to what people view them as. You could make a case for them being a pop band with some indie quirks... Or an indie band with pop hooks. Same thing? Maybe. But expectations & all.
Was just writing a review to this aha, still going to post mine soon as you focus on some aspects I didn't.
Personally the album isn't quite as good as tourist history in my opinion, that album was samey, yet it was damn enjoyable and they did that one indie-rock style well. The way the lead guitar is further down in the mix slightly annoyed me though, I was really hoping for more guitar lines like What You Know.
Album's mint Davester, but you already know that. Review says most of what I would to be honest. The
whole sound is just clearer and more pronounced than on their debut, the vocals are so much better,
and it doesn't take as long to get going. Correct rating and correct song choices; this has to be the
first time in a while I've agreed with you this much, hence love.
lyrics are fine. i think you're exagerating. they're not poetic genius but they don't make you cringe either. they're just... standard indie rock lyrics. i don't see how they can be that much of a problem. obviously this band isn't for you steoandnoodles, which is a shame.
Unsure I disagree with anything you say IfYouRun. I find this a more consistent listen, but in 12 months time will probably return to their debut a little more.
This place is just full of love Rosco. The improvement in Alex's vocals can't be stated enough. He's (maybe with a bit of help from Jacknife) has really put in some work there, so good on him.
Gyro, as in "predictably well executed"? But that's not the point I'm trying to make. As for your song choices, I must say that the opener was the real grower for me... But the closer did nothing for me.