Two Door Cinema Club Releases Complex Second Album
Tourist History was an extremely hard album to live up to. Unlike most rookie bands whose albums sound like a hodgepodge of ideas, Two Door Cinema Club already had a cohesive, perfected sound. When Two Door Cinema wrote Beacon, they did not have the option of merely honing their sound, as there was not much to hone. Instead, they would have to take a different route to keep their music fresh: either alter their sound or improve their songwriting. Luckily, they did a little bit of both, creating a follow up just as impressive as Tourist History that avoids the sophomore slump.
Stylistically, not all that much has changed with Two Door Cinema Club. The fast upper-fret riffs are back, as well as the Ben Gibbard-esque vocals. However, the light-hearted, giddy sound is missing, replaced by one that's deeper and more complex. Before Beacon, a dark Two Door Cinema Club was an oxymoron; now it is a fortunate pairing. Two Door Cinema Club accomplishes this sound through featuring the bass guitar much more heavily. Additionally, many of the guitar riffs are played in a lower octave. These deeper sounds create a counter-balance for Two Door Cinema Club’s otherwise bright, cheery music. The song “Wake Up” opens up with a funky bass lick that continues throughout the first verse, backing Alex Trimble’s smooth vocals. The track soon transitions into bluesy guitar lines, and even when the quintessential high guitar licks come in, they are distorted. As a result, “Wake Up” sounds more like rock and roll than any of the songs off Tourist History. “Someday” is another head banger; it features a bridge with a guitar riff reminiscent of The Black Keys, and then plunges into a chorus of tinkly guitars, similar to the band's traditional sound. The juxtaposition of these two tones creates an amazing dichotomy, the heavy guitar riffs seem even heavier, and the chorus has an even more surreal feel. The blotches of dark sound are a boon to Beacon; they enable the upbeat music to shine even brighter.
However, what ultimately makes Beacon such a good album is not the sound, but the quality of the songs. While Tourist History garnered popularity because of the creativity and originality of its sound, Beacon will get acclaim for its excellent songwriting. One of the issues with Tourist History is that the melodic focus is often hard to find. In the chorus of “What You Know,” the biggest hit off Tourist History, an electric guitar solo plays simultaneously with the vocal melody. Although this overdose of sound is fun at first, the vocals and guitar ultimately detract from each other. Beacon separates out these sounds more effectively, adding punch to the solos and bringing all of the emphasis to a single melody. While the choruses of Beacon feature guitars, the hierarchy is very apparent; the vocals are the foreground and the guitar is the background. This change of sound is analogous to the notion of a spotlight. When the whole stage is lit up, the individual performances cannot be dramatized as effectively as when each performer has his/her own spotlight. Beacon manages its spotlight extremely effectively, which helps it better showcase each bandmate's talent.
The song “Sun” epitomizes the difference between Beacon and Tourist History. "Sun" contains a variety of sounds, from distorted guitar licks to uplifting horns. Most importantly, the melody of the chorus is forefront. When Alex Trimble sings, “Though/I’m far away/ I know I’ll stay, I know I’ll stay/ right there with you,” his passion comes through, unmitigated by other melodies. With Beacon, Two Door Cinema Club makes the transition from an interesting band to a damn good one. When you listen, tap your foot and bob your head, but, most importantly, open your ears to the album's sonic beauty.