Music Reviews

Two Door Cinema Club Beacon

(Kitsuné) Buy it from Insound Rating - 2/10

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.  Pairing the artwork with the album title, it might seem that this is a band of wannabe bad boys who are out for one thing from all females.   But anyone who is familiar with the band’s debut, 2010’s Tourist History, should be familiar with Alex Trimble’s lyrics and voice.  Sounding quite boyish and naïve, Trimble sounds and looks less like a bad boy and more like a girl’s preferred shoulder to cry on.  And things really haven’t changed between Tourist History and Beacon; Trimble still wears his heart on his sleeve, the band still live for explosively catchy choruses, and every comparison to Bloc Party is still very much valid.

Disclaimer: if Tourist History was your favorite album of 2010 and you would like nothing more than another album just like it, feel free to give this review a rest.  Really.  This is Tourist History 2.0 with a slight shift towards slower tempos.  Again, if that’s your end goal with this album, don’t let me stop you.

For the rest of you, those who thought 2010 Two Door Cinema Club was cute but calculated, Beacon has some issues.  Perhaps the most irritating is that listening to the album simulates amnesia from song to song (if you find yourself asking, “Didn’t I just hear this song,” then you know what I mean).  To their credit, Two Door Cinema Club do try to slow things down on a few songs; however, the issue here is that in the process of slowing down, there’s little done to bring out new dynamics.  Mostly everything is contrived and cliché, lifted from a stock collection of guitar rock and electro rock of the past ten years.  From Franz Ferdinand to Bombay Bicycle Club, elements of each group have been added into the grand equation of the Two Door Cinema Club formula.  Regrettably, this includes the gaudy horns towards the end of Sun, reminiscent of Duran Duran’s Notorious.

Occasionally, this works in a limited advantage for the band.  Opener Next Year is enjoyably sentimental, albeit very similar to something Ben Gibbard (post-Plans) would pen.  As well, Pyramids finds a quiet-to-loud dynamic that provides some relief to the consistently loud tradition.  That might be a little elementary, but perhaps the album’s monotony was strategic: making all of your songs sound the same will make the slightest difference refreshing.  And frankly, even the thought of such a strategy is just depressing.  That one can’t tell the difference between Handshake and Sleep Alone, or Wake Up and Spring is very troubling for a sophomore album. 

In America, Two Door Cinema Club is signed to Glassnote, which has an impressive roster of popular acts including Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, and The Temper Trap.  One common trend between these artists is that they find a niche audience (generally one that is easily accessible), exploit well-established pioneers of the genre, and produce their own knock-off imitation.  Two Door Cinema Club fit this bill well, and it will undoubtedly continue to attract new fans.  As long as their popularity is growing, I don’t see why they would stop.  That is, unless Beacon somehow leads to a much-needed artistic identity crisis.