Soundcheck: Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
by Mykel Vernon-Sembach
When it comes to putting out a new record, Glassnote Records knows good releases. With artists such as The Temper Trap, Phoenix, Mumford & Sons, Oberhofer and Childish Gambino, it is no wonder Glassnote Records snagged the Irish-trio Two Door Cinema Club this second time around.
It has been two antagonizing long years since their first release, Tourist History, but certainly well worth the wait for their sophomore album, Beacon. Released Sept. 4, Beacon audibly illustrates a mellower Two Door Cinema Club that evokes a darker (and ultimately more produced) sound. Unfortunately, this sudden shift in Two Door Cinema Club’s style has placed them in a difficult situation: no longer unknown wonders from the United Kingdom but neither well-weathered experts of the music universe.
Beacon starts off with “Next Year”: a beat straight-sourced from the Tron soundtrack with a faux build and a crescendo that leads nowhere by the end of four minutes and eleven seconds. Two Door Cinema Club gets better with “Handshake,” sounding more like Tourist History than anything new. Lyrically speaking, it sounds as though frontman Alex Trimbel sings more of lingering heartbreak as an open invitation to his audience rather than a mile marker of his experiences.
“Wake Up” easily does the opposite of its title, never truly rising to the occasion. Two Door Cinema Club has put away almost all instrumental talent en lieu of digital production by Jackknife Lee, who has done work for both REM and Bloc Party (a downgrade, in my opinion). “Sun” is just about on the same page, sounding like a rejected track by The Bravery and half-hearted lyrics, “What would you say? / What would you say? / What would you do?”
It picks up again at “Someday,” once again sounding like a B-side Tourist History except for the vague, bruised heart from questioning, “Where do we start / If we will end apart?”
Their single, “Sleep Alone” is probably the best track of the album but, really, nothing at all to brag about. It is still catchy with a relatable topic about a one-night stand that most all can recall at one point in their life. Additionally, it is probably the least produced track of the whole album, allowing for the old Two Door Cinema Club to show of its boyish talent.
“The World Is Watching You,” while rhythmically laid-back and enchanting with Valentina’s backup vocals, the track is very similar to the likes of “Wake Up” and lacks very little, if any, variation.
The final four tracks (“Settle,” “Spring,” “Pyramid” and “Beacon”) are the rather pathetic comedown to a bummer album. Ultimately, if Beacon were a lighthouse beam, it would be pretty weak and most likely fail at warning any incoming ships of the rocky shore ahead. Beacon had the potential to shine as Two Door Cinema Club’s more educated album, but resulted in an overproduced and neutral-sounding album that is neither distasteful nor impressive. Much to the dismay of Two Door Cinema Club fans, Beacon does not satisfy any craving for their original underdog accomplishments.
Best Tracks: Handshake, Beacon