This past summer, I had the pleasure of seeing Two Door Cinema Club at Firefly Music Festival. It was my first time seeing them and I could not have been more excited. I had discovered them in 2010 during my ugly middle school years after the release of their first album, Tourist History. They were electric up on stage. Those six years of waiting to see them all felt worth it to me.
On the flip side, those six years were incredibly different for Two Door themselves. The small, indie-rock trio from Northern Ireland quickly grew in popularity. After the success of their first album, they released Beacon in 2012 and once again had a hit album. In 2013 they released an EP entitled Changing of the Seasons. It seemed their success could not be stopped, with plans for the third album rumored right after the EP was released. However, since I’m sitting here writing this in 2016, you can see how well those plans went.
Two Door had a rough three years after 2013. After Changing of the Seasons was released, they seemed to disappear completely. The three band members split literally, each moving far away from one another. They decided to take an unannounced break leaving fans wondering if they were done for good. The fame had gotten to them and they were having a tough time handling it. Lead singer Alex Trimble even battled a drug addiction. The band managed to rise above this rough patch and announced they would be releasing a new album in June 2016.
This past Friday, October 14 saw the release of their latest album Gameshow which has received mixed reviews from TDCC fans. It’s understandable — the band seems to have taken a different turn with this album. They’ve strayed from their Tourist History indie-pop sound and experimented with a more retro-rock, disco vibe for this album. Upon first listen, I wasn’t wowed. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. However, once I gave it another chance and really listened, I found the album tells a bit of a story. The lyrics on this album aren’t incredible but they are honest, which is something I appreciate. Not to mention Two Door does disco surprisingly well; there are songs on the album that sound like they could have been released in the 70s or 80s.
Retro influences can be heard throughout the album, but some songs especially have those 70s and 80s vibes. “Ordinary” is definitely a standout in this department. It combines a catchy chorus with cool guitar riffs mixed with synth, and it genuinely sounds like something that could have been played on the radio a few decades back. “Fever” is yet another song I could picture getting played in a disco club in the 70s. Trimble’s falsetto vocals and funky guitar riffs in this help the song to easily pass for some sort of boogie track. The final song on the album, “Je Viens De La,” is fast paced, exciting and makes you want to dance. Two Door aimed for a disco sound and they definitely achieved that.
While many bands constantly fall into the trap of making all their songs about relationships, Two Door did not for Gameshow, which I really enjoyed. Lyrically, this album has a lot of songs with the underlying theme of rejecting consumerism, thinking for yourself and being independent, which is understandable after the tumultuous past 3 years the band experienced. After years of touring and hearing screaming fans, the theme of wanting to be themselves shines through in the lyrics.
“Bad Decisions” deals with modern technological culture. Trimble even sings “you don’t need to know what everybody’s thinking,” and throughout the song our modern phone obsessed culture is bashed for being too exposed to everyone else all the time.
Other highlights from the album are “Gameshow” and “Good Morning,” which are my two personal favorites. The title track has more of an indie rock vibe rather than disco. Trimble sings of how underneath Two Door’s initial success he felt very fake, with lyrics like “I’m a windshield dream, I’m made of plasticine.” The whole song is brutally honest, even with lyrics making fun of things fans would scream at Trimble, saying “Sing to me, you’re so pretty.” “Good Morning” is a song you have to listen to from this album. Not only is it catchy, but it keeps with the theme of lyrical honesty. Trimble sings of accepting both the good and bad parts of himself. Long time Two Door fans will love this one because it is similar to how Beacon sounded.
All in all, I think Two Door Cinema Club took some risks with this album. Although there are some tracks that definitely can be skipped (specifically “Surgery,” I had trouble getting through that one) there are some great highlights as well. If nothing else, it is an album that demonstrates Two Door Cinema Club’s growth as a band. It seems they are making the music that they actually want to make rather than trying to please other people. This album might not please long time TDCC fans who are only into their more indie pop sound, but to new fans or more open minded fans, Gameshow is definitely worth a listen.