Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon (album) (Kitsuné) (Glassnote – US)

The much anticipated ‘Beacon’ follows the massive success of the Northern Ireland trio’s 2010 debut, ‘Tourist History’. The first single “Sleep Alone” was released as a single on July 21 (click here to read the review) and while unmistakably Two Door Cinema Club, it hinted at a darker undercurrent.

‘Beacon’ features 11 tracks of the band’s trademark indie-pop complete with disco-beats, funky bass lines and fiddly indie guitars. While there are some new influences and subtle new instrumentation added to their sound (synths, horns, and organ), ‘Beacon’ is Two Door Cinema Club doing what they do best and while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel per se, it doesn’t tread the exact same ground either.

There is a definite maturity (just listen to the title track “Beacon”) in their sound and songwriting.  The entire record and in particular its second half  from “Sleep Alone” onwards (which are also the most interesting tracks on the album), exudes introspective, reflective and even melancholy qualities.

“New Year” is the first track during which its first 30 seconds are purely electronic, driven by an electro-blip arpeggio and synth bass line. However before the minute is up the familiar and joyous sound of their indie-disco beats and indie guitars arrive. The chord progression during the chorus is an interesting one recalling The Killers while during the verses, as well as other places on the album such as “Settle” and “Sleep Alone”, Alex Trimble’s vocal melodies have echoes of Brandon Flowers’ solo album (‘Flamingo’). The immediacy of “New Year” is indie-pop at its finest.

“Handshake” begins with New Wave  keyboard intro before disco grooves and a buzzing synth-like guitar are introduced. The dual vocal throughout the verses adds an interesting texture, which along with the song’s euphoric chorus, unveils an ever so slight darkness running through the song.

Each song displays the trio’s incredible knack of writing sleek, up-beat,  solid indie-pop tunes. As on ‘Tourist History’, underneath all the pop sugariness you can find quirky and fiddly indie guitar lines courtesy of Sam Halliday. The guitar work in “Wake Up” is particularly impressive as is the funk-like bass during the song’s final 30 seconds.

Kevin Baird’s bass lines also really leap out on this record, and “Handshake” in particular highlights his ability to add a solid funk edge to the songs.

Where “Someday” sounds like it has been lifted straight from ‘Tourist History’, “Sun” introduces a new sound palate to the record beginning with an organ before moving into a feel-good 80’s style R&B-pop complete with funk bass. The vocal melody and use of horns during the chorus give “Sun” an almost, ahem, ‘Earth, Wind &  Fire’ feel.

The album’s first single “Sleep Alone” is a brilliant indie-pop anthem moodier than anything on ‘Tourist History’ with some stunning and inspired guitar textures (check out the full review here).

“The World Is Watching” follows and showcases a calypso beat while exhibiting a Christmas carol like quality that is suitably melancholy tinged. The vocals courtesy of singer Valentina also add an interesting dynamic to the song and album.

“Settle” also has melancholic traits and continues on with the calypso-like shuffle. A gorgeous and less formulaic number that while less immediate is a highlight track.

The closing title track sees the band explore new ground sonically; a down-tempo and atmospheric number with reverb and delay added to the vocals for flavour. The guitar line traits of The Police (think “I’ll Be Watching You”), while the keyboard notes in the verses further add to the 80’s nostalgia.

Sure it may be safe and at times formulaic but ‘Beacon’ is an extremely solid and thoroughly enjoyable indie-pop record on par with ‘Tourist History’.

Stream the entire album via SoundCloud below before its September 3 release.

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