Two Door Cinema Club’s sophomoric record, Beacon, garnered rapturous critical acclaim, catapulting the Irish trio into the breadths of stardom and cult iconography alike. Debuting at number one on the Irish Albums Chart and number two on the UK Albums Chart, Beacon was certified gold shortly after its release, serving as the band’s first taste of gritty chart success. Though their debut effort, Tourist History, proved equally as rich in quality, the band were now the headliners as opposed to the supporting act.
One might consider it apt to continue this trajectory further, but Beacon was actually released four years ago. In keeping with successful rock band tradition, they found themselves plagued by a myriad of personal issues. It would be something of an understatement to describe this period of inactivity as a hiatus, as that does not truly justify the extent of their toils: hospitalisation, depression, and alcoholism. Nonetheless, this break was not all doom-and-gloom. Lead vocalist Alex Trimble launched a photographic exhibition, bassist Kevin Baird explored Eastern religion and yoga, and lead guitarist Sam Halliday got married.
A radical upheaval from their meticulously alternative sound
Borne of this bittersweet phase was Game-show, a radical upheaval of the meticulously alternative sound that the band became so renowned for. Veering away from their ultra-catchy indie roots, Two Door Cinema Club’s latest reincarnation acts as an embracing of purified pop – the type of which they previously appeared desperate to keep at arm’s length. The lead single, ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’, personifies the kitchen-sink approach to a substantial pop song, its synth-heavy instrumental enveloping its castigation of consumerist culture: ‘’you should be comfortable, don’t think at all.’’
Lyrically speaking, Gameshow is simply brimming with thought-provoking gems. ‘Bad Decisions’ lambastes the rise of social media, claiming that we ‘’don’t need to know what everybody’s thinking,’’ whilst Trimble protests that he is ‘’made of plasticine’’ on the album’s title track. On the surface, it would seem as though the band are complaining about an invasion of privacy which is virtually non-existent to them. Despite their commercial success in terms of sales and gigs, one would suspect that an overwhelming majority of the public would struggle to identify a member of the band. In this way, the album is very much paradoxical: the listener is presented with a series of contradictions and a conformist pop aesthetic that quickly dismisses others in the same field.
Ambitious as it is, the album occasionally falls short. The sickly balladry of ‘Invincible’, for instance, is incredibly tepid, similar to something you might come across in a John Hughes film, and Pink Fever’s ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’-esque introduction was so painstaking that it is portentous. A couple of other tracks on the album are so indifferent that they simply fade into the background – ‘Surgery’ and ‘Lavender’ aren’t anything we haven’t heard before.
That’s just the problem though. This kind of music can be found just about anywhere. Whilst there is probably somebody who could distinguish ‘Ordinary’ from any other song in the charts, it simply does not sit right at a Two Door Cinema Club gig. Then again, that’s what evolution is all about, though instead of trail-blazers, the band are reduced to conformists.
This kind of music can be found just about anywhere
Despite this, certain sporadic pangs of greatness can certainly be noted amongst this collection. Closing track ‘Je Viens De La’ is infectiously euphoric, concluding Gameshow with an upbeat reprisal of the glossy-pop/1980s funk vibes the album seems to collate. Another highlight of the album is ‘Good Morning’, in which Trimble’s vocals blend perfectly with the instrumental fronted by Baird and Halliday. If there were any lingering discord between the three, this album suggests that it has been eradicated. Though the album is certainly not perfect, nor overly original, it places Two Door Cinema Club in prime position to soar once more.