It’s good, but is it Tourist History?
The benchmark by which Two Door Cinema Club will always be judged is their phenomenally popular debut, such is the curse of releasing one of the most popular albums of the late noughties. The Irish trio have always served up refreshingly snappy indie rock tunes, with songs like Something Good Can Work and Cigarettes In The Theatre essentially defining the meaning of summer; but Gameshow falls just short of their usual calibre.
The boys, Kevin Baird, Alex Trimble and Sam Halliday have toured relentlessly since bursting onto the scene and cementing themselves as festival headliners six years ago. And as anyone who has ever had to face a long term living situation will relate to, they understandably started to grate on each other. They told The Guardian in a recent interview:
“We pushed it too hard for too long. Together 24/7, almost 365 days a year, we were doing over 200 shows a year plus the travelling, records and video shoots – we were never apart. It was physically and mentally draining, and we got that point in early to mid-2013 where we all agreed that it just wasn’t worth it. We didn’t want to be around one another for a very long time”.
The tension between them seems to have carried through into their creative process, no longer having that cohesive and sprightly sound that threw them into arena dates within two years of releasing their debut.
The opening track Are We Ready? (Wreck), which also happens to be the first single from the record, does well for showcasing Trimble’s vocal range, but does little to reignite that Two Door Cinema Club nostalgia ingrained in anyone below the ripe old age of twenty. Sure to become a festival anthem and likely their most successful single since 2010, but a little too glossy perhaps?
This slight lack of depth in their unique sound, however, is made up for by Trimble’s more introspective lyrics on songs like Bad Decisions. Over unapologetically 80s synth he asks:
“Why you look so sad? You’ve been trying too hard, too hard to be happy, Where’s the sense in that?”
In a recent press release he revealed “I discovered this term weltschmertz, the German word for being at odds with the world around you. The fact that it was a fully coined term made me feel it was okay to not exist on the same level as everyone else, it was okay to be comfortable doing your own thing”, going on to further explain the impact of information overload in contemporary society; hence the bridge containing a repetitive and robotic chant of generation information.
Third track Ordinary follows much of the same suit, providing a satisfactory pop tune over a funk laden bassline, a song that could potentially be a stand out track for an up-and-coming artist, but for the singalong titans that are Two Door Cinema Club? It’s hard to shake the lacklustre air about it all, knowing their true potential.
The eponymous track Gameshow has a darker edge to it, with the distorted fuzz of guitars almost drowning out cries of:
“I’m a girl, I’m a ghost, I’m a gameshow Nobody wants me, Find no reason”.
In a breakdown that sounds uncannily like a brainchild of Jack White, they manage to pull back that charm and originality we all know and love, but also whilst taking a surprising new direction for such a usually happy-go-lucky band.
Lavender and Fever continue the shimmery 80s disco feel, and by this point you can’t help but wonder – is it this tame all the way through? Where’s the raw, sunshine feel? How much Bee Gees have they been listening to? The production feels almost too sleek, compromising the personality and magnetism of the band. It’s not compelling, but it’s definitely an enjoyable, mood-heightening listen, and maybe that’s what it’s really all about? Maybe we expect too much of a band that exist primarily to release chart topping sugary indie rock tracks? Despite Two Door Cinema Club’s remarkable back history, they’re still just that – an indie rock band. And a bloody good one at that.
New musical directions never go down well, with the terms ‘sell-out’ and ‘washed-up’ being thrown around as if, ironically, they’re going out of fashion. So maybe we should give Two Door Cinema Club a break after they’ve battled through internal conflict, alcoholism and self proclaimed “sacrificed so much of our lives to just keep getting better and bigger. We ruined ourselves through pitting ourselves against others, but also against ourselves”.
To give Gameshow a shot, start by listening to Are We Ready? (Wreck), Je Viens De La – for a particularly Barry Gibbs feel, and Lavender.