Cast your mind back to 2005 and the inundation of skinny jean bedecked strummers churning out nice little radio friendly ditties and enjoying meteoric success, only to vanish from the public eye faster than a Big Mac at a Weightwatchers meeting.
See the Guillemots, The Pigeon Detectives, Boy Kill Boy, The Bravery, The Hoosiers, the….. well you get the idea. Just a handful of players from a cast of thousands who have beautifully illustrated that while fly by night success is by no means without its perks and instant gratification, originality of some description is the key to longevity.
So after the widespread teenage adulation and abundance of “this year’s festival must see” clichés that followed the release of 2010’s debut ‘Tourist History’, the pressure is firmly on Two Door Cinema Club to produce a follow up that would appease the oh so fickle indie scene. An unenviable task by anyone’s standards.
Conceivably inspired by the recent rumours that none other than US President Barack Obama counts himself amongst their fans, the Bangor trio upped sticks to Los Angeles to record ‘Beacon’, an antithetical contrast to the gritty London studio that birthed their inaugural effort. On paper a move that seemed a sound way of harnessing a fresh approach to their new record, but in reality one that did little to broaden the band’s horizons.
For although ‘Beacon’ does convey a more industry savvy, tour weary after two years on the road disposition in a lyrical sense, musically the album offers very little that we haven’t heard a hundred times before.
That’s not to say that the album as a collective is poor, it’s not. Rather just frustratingly lacking in original ideas from such a promising and clearly talented young group.
Lead single ‘Sleep Alone’ is a prime example of where Two Door Cinema Club have been guilty of this. An undeniably catchy disco infused adolescent anthem sure to raise a stirring response at student unions across the country, yes. But hear it in such a setting for the first time and only the most finely tuned ear would be able to pinpoint the artist so snugly does it sit with a plethora of other NME darlings.
Album opener ‘Next Year’ is one of the highlights, an electro inspired ode to the bittersweet nature of life on the road. In fairness the guys have earned their stripes in that respect, exhausting all pockets of Europe and North America in their bid to promote their debut effort, and lines such as ‘I don’t know where I’m going to rest my head tonight’ and ‘I’ll be home next year’ suggest that they are taking the rough with the smooth.
‘Handshake’ is more of a deviation from what fans might expect from the band, firing an acknowledging wink to the 80s synth-pop scene. The chorus of the title track is a triumphant wave of sing-along glory that you can’t help but get wrapped up in.
‘Wake Up’ is probably the finest example of the trio’s collective talents shining through, Sam Halliday’s jangling guitar particularly standing out, and you can’t help but feel a little disheartened that the rest of the record couldn’t be so focused. The album ends with the disappointingly uninspired but appropriately titled ‘Remember My Name’, as clear an indication as any that Alex Trimble and co are looking to be more than just a footnote in the annals of indie history.
It could happen. The talent, desire and willingness is there. All that’s missing is that unmistakeable swagger and identity.
Not quite this time lads.