October 18, 2016 Two Door Cinema Club – Gameshow (Album Review)
Formed in 2007, in County Down, Northern Ireland, by Alex Trimble (vocals, rhythm guitar, beats, synths), Sam Halliday (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Kevin Baird (bass, synths, backing vocals), Two Door Cinema Club caught the Indie Pop world in awe with its solid first effort, 2010’s Tourist History. Right from the start, the music of the band was already distinctly developed – best characterized by the sweet-sour guitar angularity that harked to similar styling employed by Post-Punk pioneers such as Gang of Four (“Return the Gift”), Orange Juice (“Falling and Laughing”), early Siouxsie & the Banshees (“Mirage”), and the more recent Franz Ferdinand (“Take Me Out”); and sharp and witty lyricism that may recall the wordplay and narrative antics of Jarvis Cocker of the Britpop purveyor Pulp (“Babies”); all these packaged in less-than-four-minutes sunny, upbeat, and quirky Indie Pop songs. Two Door Cinema Club’s follow-up to their all-killer debut came in 2012, in the form of the synthesizer-laden Beacon, which retained much of its predecessor’s jangly guitar excursions and dance-floor tendencies yet glossed in some corners with the sweet shininess of Synthpop and Dance-Punk.
Four years after, Two Door Cinema Club are back with a different kind of beast and a more relaxed temperament albeit with aural remnants of its predecessors. Released on October 14, 2016, the band’s third album, Gameshow, stands out with its marked change in the songs’ stylistic foundation, tempos, and instrumental structures, but the trademark cyclical and edgy guitar works are still as ubiquitous as ever. It opens with the engaging beat of “Are We Ready? (Wreck),” whose chiming and choppy guitar strums and subtle Reggae basslines connect the album to the previous ones; the initiated might hear faint echoes of The Cure’s “10:15 Saturday Night,” The Police’s “Roxanne,” and Men at Work’s “Land Down Under.” The following “Bad Decisions” and “Ordinary” are where the band gets to change its stylistic gear nostalgically; its funky groove and rhythm as well as falsetto-flavored vocal approach hark to the glittery sound of ’70s Disco in the veins of Bee Gees (“Stayin’ Alive”) and early Michael Jackson (“Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”).
The title track will most likely become the favorite of fans who came to love Two Door Cinema Club for its Post-Punk roots; its opening bass and drum thuds drives in ominously like Joy Division’s “Transmission” and then builds up into the Gothic sensibilities of The House of Love (“Shine On”) and B-Movie (“Nowhere Girl”). “Lavender” returns the album to its mild-tempo, groovy predisposition. “Fever,” on the other hand, starts like an anthemic Glam Metal guitar instrumental that, for a few chord changes, may remind a Metal aficionado of Steve Stevens’s “Top Gun Anthem” or Steve Vai’s “For the Love of God,” only to break away instead as a shiny, strobe lit, dance-floor body swayer.
Certainly the album’s much-needed icebreaker, the pulsating “Invincible” comes across as a suave Sophisti-Pop ballad. It will fit a playlist that includes Cutting Crew’s “I’ve Been in Love Before,” Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face,” Everything But the Girl’s “I Always Was Your Girl,” and even Cook da Books’ “Your Eyes.” The ensuing “Good Morning” begins in the same mood, but launches off immediately with the band’s characteristic cyclical guitar lines, staccato piano flourishes, and big drum sound. The penultimate track, “Surgery” is an exploration into Synthpop/Electroclash territory, incorporating synth-bass and using once again the power of the falsetto as well as subtle symphonic shots. Finally, Two Door Cinema Club closes Gameshow on a high note, with the Chic-inspired energy of “Je Viens De La.”
Two Door Cinema Club is definitely one of the interesting bands to ever come out of the Indie Pop scene in the 2010s. While it may be easily regarded as firmly rooted in the stylistic beginnings of the Post-Punk era, Two Door Cinema Club’s music remains fresh and current, at par with the contemporary modernity of the genre in which the band chose to express it. From Tourist History to Gameshow, Two Door Cinema Club has quickly carved its rightful place in the pantheon of Indie Pop music populated by luminaries like The Killers (“Human”) and Coldplay (“Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”); and with the direction its members chose to take in their latest offering, it may be fair to claim that the band is just beginning to expand their musical horizons. This means that Two Door Cinema Club still has a lot more musical surprises to deliver in the coming years. CrypticRock gives Gameshow 4 out of 5 stars.