By Steven Keehner
After a four year wait, Northern Irish indie-rock sensation Two Door Cinema Club has finally made its long awaited return to music with the band's third album, Gameshow.
Formed in 2007, the band rose to prominence with their debut album, Tourist History (a must listen in my opinion) in 2010, which allowed the band to skyrocket in popularity and led to their winning the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year in 2010. They followed this up with their second album, Beacon, in 2012. While it didn’t reach the heights of Tourist History, it still reached number one on the Irish Charts and second on the UK Charts.
Following six years of constant touring, rumors of the band taking a break or even splitting up began to emerge. “We pretty much despised one another by the end,” said lead singer Alex Trimble in a recent interview with The Guardian. The rumors eventually did become true, as they would take a break, until now. The band has returned with a new look and a new style.
Gameshow was released on October 14th, with singles: “Are We Ready? (Wreck)," “Bad Decisions," and, of course, “Gameshow." I’ll be reviewing the Deluxe version of the album, which includes a few remixes and live versions of some of the songs.
The album immediately kicks off with the song “Are We Ready? (Wreck)." Upon listening to this song, a listener of previous TDCC work would already be able to tell that this album is heading in an entirely unexpected direction. With its catchy yet thought out guitar riffs and fast paced drumming, it’s simply a great song to kick off the album. Much like many of the songs to follow, it discusses an issue regarding society today: the role of ads in our society.
The next song of the album is “Bad Decisions,” which is easily the most unique song on the entire album. Along with having an incredibly unique music video, the song itself is also interesting to say the least. Alex Trimble’s falsetto singing style, which reoccurs later in the album, initially caught me off guard. The song is an interesting combination of funk, dance, electronic, and rock, which creates an incredibly unique and catchy song. Much like “Are We Ready?” it discusses another issue within society today: the role of technology in our lives. This song features some fascinating lyrics, such as “You don't need to know what everybody's thinking, / don't get mad at yourself, / find it on the television” and “Lately, think I've had enough, / of generation information every station, / and I can't turn it off.” By this point, the rest of the album’s tone has been set.
Next, we get the first non-single, “Ordinary." Much like “Bad Decisions," the song utilizes EDM and Trimble’s Falsetto singing voice to once again create something I can say I’ve never heard before. While the lyrics are a little odd and repetitive, it is still an enjoyable song.
Then comes “Gameshow," which will comfort fans of the old TDCC work, as it goes back to the rock-pop style the allowed the band to initially gain so much popularity within the indie-rock scene. Whether it’s the bass, lead/rhythm guitar, percussion, or vocals, it all seems to blend really well to create what I think is one of the best songs on the album.
Up next is “Lavender,” which is my personal favorite on the album and a song that I couldn’t believe wasn’t a single. With enjoyable lyrics, a powerful bass guitar presence, fantastic backing vocals, and an incredibly climactic chorus, it combines to create what I believe is a near perfect song. I would rate “Lavender” as the best track on Gameshow; it stands out as a unique and powerful song on the album.
“Fever,” the next song on the album, much like “Bad Decisions” and “Ordinary,” reverts back to the EDM/falsetto style; these become reoccurring traits of the songs following, and I believe this becomes a major problem by the end of the album. The songs become interchangeable, and this song marks the beginning of that pattern. It’s still a decent song; however, I wish that it had more unique qualities.
The next two songs, “Invincible” and “Good Morning” are, as previously mentioned, almost interchangeable. They both begin quietly, but they slowly turn into what we’ve already seen.
“Surgery” is a song that actually stands out at this point. Utilizing voice modifiers and other electronic music tools, it, for the first time in a few songs, creates something different. But it still falls into the same patterns as before.
This recurrence is the main issue with Gameshow; Two Door Cinema Club takes a chance with this new style, and it certainly works initially, but they fail to do anything with it after the first five songs. Not to call it laziness, because the style of EDM and rock is certainly new to listeners, but the band fails to roll with the sound and expand upon it. The only song that changes this is a remix of “Ordinary,” which is a purely EDM-styled song and surprisingly enjoyable. If I had to give a rating out of 10, I would give Gameshow a 6.5-7 out of 10. It could’ve been something special, but it fails to build upon the initial foundation the band develops, leading to a stressful path of repetition, which for a band that has already created incredible music, is very disappointing.