Two Door Cinema Club ‘Beacon’ album review

Two Door Cinema Club ‘Beacon’ (Kitsuné)
Out Now

The new album by Northern Irelands Two Door Cinema Club came out a short while ago & Louder Than War’s Nyika Suttie has been listening to it for us.

I first heard of Two Door Cinema Club back in 2009 when somebody I was at Glastonbury with suggested that I go to see them. They hadn’t even had an album out at this point and because I hadn’t heard of them I didn’t go to see them. Hindsight, eh? Since then I’ve seen them three times and their debut album, Tourist History is one of my all-time favourite albums. Therefore I was interested to listen to their newly released second album, Beacon. I heard a few songs when I saw them at Bestival last week but I thought better to pass judgement without having heard the whole album.

Beacon begins with an electronic beat bringing us into “Next Year” and introduces a more mature, stripped back theme that continues throughout the album. This first song actually comes as a bit of a surprise, Tourist History was filled with ringing guitars and basslines, whereas Next Year is synthy and drum-lead. There is a brief return to general TDCC style but it is, as I say, more mature. A little more along the lines of previous TDCC is “Handshake”, a song which is almost balladic in its nature. Despite never having done a song that could be described as a “ballad” before, this works fairly well, and the beat which drove the dance-ability of the last album is still there. Mind you, this warrants more of a nodding of the head than an outright bounce up and down.

“Wake Up” is a far more up-beat offering and gets your toe tapping. TDCC really like their guitar pedals and they’re used to good effect in this one. However, there just seems to be something missing. “Sun” is a return to the more laidback; this is very much a departure from the sound we’ve come to expect. The usage of trumpets really adds something to this track and means it does not slip away behind the less quiet songs.
“Someday” would not look out of place on Tourist History and yet does not suffer from familiarity, instead assuring the listener that they are listening to the same band. This was very popular when it was played live at Bestival and I strongly suspect it will be released as a single. It’s happy, dance-y indie rock, the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from the band.

Next comes “Sleep Alone”, which is the first single to be released from the album. This is another upbeat one and manages to still sound like Two Door Cinema Club without sounding as though you’ve heard it before. It raises a smile as the lead singer implores you to “hold him close”. It is clear to see why this is the first release.
And then comes something completely different. “The World is Watching” brings in the lovely vocals of Valentina Pappalardo and links synths with violins to create a really pleasant pop song. This is probably the stand out track of the album for me as it is so different yet just works so well. Towards the end of the song there is an element that sounds a lot like Belfast by Orbital. This comes completely out of the blue, but it’s forgiveable as Belfast is just a great song.

“Settle” is laid back and catchy, contrasting with the bouncy bassline of “Spring”, which is a song evoking early summer days. In “Pyramid” the band really returns to form, this song is slightly heavier and that little bit more dancier, it’s a track I can imagine listening to on the bus on the way to the pub to get me in the mood. The track ends abruptly and in comes “Beacon”, the titular song of the album. This song has a very, very familiar bassline but I just can’t place where it’s from. I wouldn’t say the song was a stand-out song but with a good use of bass and echo-voice effects it rounds off the album well.

This album is a far more polished, mature offering from the Northern Irish trio, but I’m struggling to find this a good thing. What the band have gained in maturity they’ve lost in danceable tunes and happy music, the two things I loved about Tourist History. It’s also worth pointing out that some of the songs on this album are, well, weak. It’s fine to strip your music down but go too far and you lose the essence of what you are. Fortunately The World is Watching, Sleep Alone and Someday will probably carry the album, but there is definitely something missing here. Another disappointment is the album art, I know I’m a feminist and all but something about it just doesn’t sit right with me. Nevermind.

All words by Nyika Suttie. This is Nyika’s first post for us. She also write on her website Outsider Looking Out & is on twitter as @puzzledbyadream .

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By day somebody who makes maps, by night a very amateur music journalist, I am a life long lover of music, despite having no musical talent beyond appreciation. I once wanted to be a news journalist but discovered I was too nice so started writing about music instead. Thankfully my musical tastes have moved on from the 2006 indie of my teenage years and include most things that involve folk, punk, ska and, yes, indie (often all at once). Other hobbies include reading in coffee shops, cycling, making things and just generally being unwittingly pretentious.



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