Two Door Cinema Club miss the mark with ‘Beacon’

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By Jocelyn Cote

Reviews Editor

On September 4th, Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club released their sophomore album Beacon on Kitsuné Records. The highly-anticipated followup to their 2010 debut Tourist History is a fine listen, but overall leaves something to be desired when all is said and done.

Two Door fans got their first taste of Beacon on their 2011 world tour, which I attended myself. The songs “Handshake,” “Settle” (then known as “This is Moon”), and “Sleep Alone” all made regular appearances in setlists across the globe. The latter has translated best from the live to studio setting, while the two former seem a bit constricted in their final form compared to their original live counterparts.

Beacon clocks in at about 40 minutes; 8 minutes longer than the band’s previous effort. However, the album has an overall subdued feel compared to its predecessor. Musically, their sound has matured, but with that it has lost some of the feel-good vibes that fans have come to know in the past three years. To say that the album is darker is definitely a stretch, but a bit of their “musical sunshine” has been obscured.

The album kicks off with “Next Year”, which is heavily driven by electronic sounds. It is paced on the slower side, and fails to fully start the album with a bang.

Following “Next Year” is “Handshake,” a standout track previously unveiled on the 2011 tour. However, its studio form is somewhat muted compared to its rocking live counterpart. An aggrivating backing vocal especially hurts the track. Overall, though, it comes together to form one of Beacon‘s most memorable moments.

The trio of “Wake Up,” “Sun,” and “Someday” is easily forgettable. They all sound quite similar – a problem that plagues the album much of the way through. Following these tracks, listeners’ ears are treated to “Sleep Alone,” the album’s lead single and arguable highlight. Driven by a thumping beat and signature guitar work courtesy of lead guitarist Sam Halliday, the song harks back to some of the band’s earliest and most unique work.

The songs on the second half of the album once again sound frustratingly similar to each other. I felt myself gasping for variety during my first listen through. However, the song “Pyramid” shines through as the latter half’s best track. It starts off quiet, but soon evolves into a rocking, melodic powerhouse. It’s a different side of Two Door, but certainly one that can be welcomed with open arms.

Overall, Beacon is a decent album, awful cover art aside. That being said, it’s nothing ground-breaking in the world of indie rock. It strays more towards the electronic side of their signature “altronic” sound, leaving listeners longing for more of the band’s poppy, fast-paced guitar work that made their debut so unique. Beacon is without a doubt a must have for any hardcore Two Door Cinema Club fan, but casual listeners may want to think twice and give it a trial listen before picking it up. If you’re willing to shell out the extra cash, the band have also released a deluxe edition of the album that includes a full soundboard recording of their excellent Brixon Academy show, which took place on February 25th of this year. I myself am looking forward to seeing them at the end of the month to see if these songs take on a new and more exciting life in a live setting.

Highlights: “Handshake,” “Sleep Alone,” “Pyramid”

3/5

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