In the second half of 2012, UK band Two Door Cinema Club was everywhere. I spent the January sales listening to Sun in every retail outlet in the country (okay, I’m a Sale junkie). They seemed to be on every TV music show playing live, with a good performance on BBC2’s Jules Holland.
More than two years after Two Door Cinema Club’s well-received debut album Tourist History (which passed by me), the UK band has finally returned with a very polished second album of catchy songs.
Ear-marked by a lightness of touch, Beacon is a collection of well crafted pop songs, interesting, hard-working arrangements, underpinned by some intricate electric guitar, overlaid by very clear vocals. Two Door Cinema Club reminded of The Temper Trap, Bombay Bicycle Club and maybe some other UK fringe Indie-pop bands with ‘Club’ in the title.
The album is front-loaded so everything sounds like a single – or at least something familiar you’ve heard already. There’s no messing around in these songs, you’re straight into a hook, verse, chorus, break, go around again, finish.
Next Year and Handshake are lively openers. Wake Up is an up-tempo, bigger production which will certainly wake you up. The most heard track from this album, Sun, is a reflective mid-tempo love song, with vocals right at the front and the most catchy earworm of a chorus. It is trademark Two Door Cinema Club; slightly enigmatic, very poetic lyrics. Pick any verse.
“I built a hive, became one with the bees, but we fell like like rain, got lost into the sea, if I don’t know, the wind will carry me, so just hold tight.”
Someday goes really fast. “Is is a race or a chase? It’s a difficult one.” I’m not sure what the song is trying to say, but as a brash bit of pop-rock, it works really well. “Its head versus heart. Where to we gofrom here. It will all be clear. Someday.”
Sleep Alone also belts along at speed, pulsing backbeat, but then we’re into the second half, a much more relaxed affair. The World is Watching (With Valentina) beds down a little, a sweet, dreamy mid-tempo ballad. Settle is a light, Graceland-style number. Spring is on a homeward run, then Pyramid hardly starts before it abruptly finishes.
For title track Beacon, you expect the big finish, maybe another up-tempo rocker, a power ballad or guitar anthem, but Beacon rolls along in much the same groove and then stops. It’s not a bad second half, it just doesn’t develop or rouse itself for the end. In a home-straight run of easy listening, Two Door Cinema Club seem to have played their best cards at the start only to break even over the remainder of the session.
Beacon appears to lack much in the way of light and shade, which is a shame as it seems to be the fault of the running order rather than the material or the quality of the musicianship. Put it on shuffle, it becomes a pleasant surprise each time. SC