You’ve GOT to Hear This: Two Door Cinema Club – “Beacon”

BeaconFormed in 2007, Northern Ireland’s indie-rock trio Two Door Cinema Club have had seven years good luck in the music industry, not to mention the frequent jaunts to Glastonbury and Leeds/Reading. It’s hard to imagine them as the 16-year-old musicians dubbed ‘Life Without Rory’ who came last in a County Down televised music contest.  With self-recorded yet successful EP ‘Four Words to Stand On’ in 2009 and platinum debut album ‘Tourist History’ in 2010, the Bangor boys may have a few more surprises up the sleeves of their French designer blazers.

On the 3rd September 2012, loyal Two Door fans across the globe were delighted when the two doors opened and out came a new album. “’Beacon’ is deeper and more emotional,” front-man Alex Trimble reveals at Scottish festival T in the Park. “Lyrically it’s more honest but at the same time it’s ambiguous.” Hmm. Could this show a less-poppy and optimistic side to Two Door – not the side so commonly compared to the likes of Foals and Bloc Party? Across the nations, the herds of Two Door fanatics sit anxiously chewing their nails and anticipating this possibly new sound of Two Door Cinema Club.

In the summer of 2012, we saw a new single from ‘Beacon’ – the melancholy and soulful ‘Sleep Alone’. A stark contrast is shown between the cheerful, jangling melodies of ‘Tourist History’ with Trimble crooning “Let’s make this happen girl, we’re gonna show the world something good can work”, and the lost, lonely wanderers we see in this new track. Nirvana-inspired Trimble pleads into the mic – “Oh hold, hold, hold, hold me close, I’ve never been this far from home” – possibly a reference to the amount of time Two Door spend away from their families whilst touring the world?

The second single ‘Sun’ also provides reference to living on the road; above Trimble’s four-chord piano performance, Sam Halliday’s electro-pop guitar riff on his signature Farida and Kevin Baird’s hip-wiggling bassline, the lyrics “The roads I knew became a city” can be heard. Certainly, ‘Beacon’ seems to be more about the lonely life of a homesick band and the sights they have seen whilst on tour, than the shy, schoolboy, lovesick confessions that we heard in ‘Tourist History’. Unreleased track ‘Pyramid’ was inspired by a trip to Mexico, says band, and begs the listener to “take [the band] through the pyramid.” Accompanied by Halliday’s plinky-plonky guitar picking and some unexpected trumpets, we see Two Door grow up, shake off their youthfully tousled curls and don carefully slicked-back quiffs.

Second track off the album ‘Handshake’ creates moody, almost evil-sounding vibes with chords such as E minor and A minor to help accomplish that. Trimble sings of love being difficult to find and unable to win, supplemented by a darkly humorous video in which the three band members are decapitated and their heads used as bowling balls.  Again, Halliday’s tinkling guitar riffs and Baird’s rhythmic bass-picking provides that familiar TDCC atmosphere that you can’t help but adore.

Despite the positive reception ‘Beacon’ has received, Two Door defend the artwork for their new album from negative criticism. Strong accusations of the trio being sexist, by depicting a near-naked female emerging from a chandelier, have been hotly denied by Trimble. “The sleeve is meant to be sexy not sexist…When I look at it now, I can understand where people are coming from being upset. But I still think it’s a great piece of art”, the lead singer says earnestly.

Still, if any of Two Door’s loyal Basement People (the self-dubbed worldwide fans named after a lyric from track ‘Undercover Martyn’) were worried the band might alter their sound, they were unshakeably reassured.  In an NME interview in January 2012, the band said they have been listening to hip-hop and feel that the drums and basslines have become influenced by the likes of Kanye West and Jay-Z. They were however cautious to note that they will not start rapping. On the other hand, Baird’s bass playing does trigger an R&B feel, particularly in songs such as ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Next Year’. To prevent a complete change in their distinctive sound, Two Door are careful to use their trademark high-fret guitar riffs and electronic drum machine.

Despite maybe not having that “spark” that ‘Tourist History’ had, ‘Beacon’ is still full of hip-shaking, toe-tapping, air-guitaring, festival-going jovial resonance. “Every time we were writing something new, we were taking a step forward musically,” says Baird, “we know the record’s great and we’re super happy with it”. Reaching No.2 in the UK charts – second only to The Vaccines’ ‘Come Of Age’ which coincidentally was released on the same day – Alex, Sam and Kevin are certainly growing up. No longer are they the tousle-haired young boys who played major guitar chords and produced upbeat and optimistic videos to accompany them…”Beacon” is a massive step forward and it will “pull you in, romantic and drenched in sin”.

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Nallie Simpson | @float_forever

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