06 April 2010

Two Door Cinema Club: "Tourist History"

Lately I have really been into “pop” music, and I want to qualify that a bit. To me, I tend not to use “pop” to signify “popular” music in terms of mainstream music; though some of what I have written about lately has had commercial success in the UK and/or Continental Europe, when I think of “pop” music as a genre I think back to the 1950s. It is sort of mindset you have when writing music; the goal is to write tight songs, on the shorter side, that rely heavily on the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-break/bridge-chorus-chorus format or some slight variation of that. Coupled with catchy lyrics, not all pop music is meant for frivolous entertainment; some pop has been heady and musically innovative (take a look at early Depeche Mode for that). And the thing about pop is that it can exist in just about any style of music, from electronic to rock, from dance to ballads. And of course, pop has never completely disappeared, but quality pop became virtually non-existent in the mainstream for over a decade, until recently. And if you do not think that pop is making a comeback, well then welcome to the world of Two Door Cinema Club.

Hailing from Northern Ireland and merging electropop with a rock format (two guitarists and a bassist, assisted by a drum machine), Two Door Cinema Club joins the ranks of recent musicians (Fyfe Dangerfield, Frankmusik, Goldfrapp, Hot Chip, La Roux, and Little Boots to name a few) who are once again proving that pop music can be vibrant, urgent, and relevant. “Tourist History” (28 February 2010 in Ireland, 1 March 2010 in the UK, 9 March 2010 in the USA as an import, but will be available domestically 27 April 2010) is full of infectious melodies, thriving beats, and winsome arrangements. Furthermore, this is one of those sunny, go lucky albums that just makes you feel good.

Musically, the band definitely has a wide breath of musical cues it has taken influences from: from 80s new wave to the current post-punk revival, the band lusciously combines all their influences in every track. With the opening track, “Cigarettes In The Theatre,” you quickly wonder just what kind of theatre they are talking about: “It starts in the theatre, a night of encounters…” Now hailing from the NYC metro area, I have a good idea of what kind of theatres these may be (especially when the final line repeats, “Tell me your favourite things…”). So even this polish, radio-ready pop ditty hides an adulterated experience in it, which reminds me of the best electropop bands out there – think again of Depeche Mode, specifically “Master and Servant” or “Strangelove.”

The album moves through many different terrains, including an space odyssey in “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You”: “You would look a little better, don’t you know, if you just wore less make-up. But it’s hard to realise when you’re sky high fighting off the spaceships.” (Of course, the operative words may be “sky high,” but let’s take this one literally.) There is also references to insanity: “You won’t believe what I tell you, white coats and clever minds will choose… you get a lot from this: loose tongue and arrogance. It’s not appropriate, don’t think that this is it” (“I Can Talk”). And in “This Is The Life,” there is the affirmation that life is about feeling good: “Feel something right, and feel something good, because if one thing works, you might know it’s true, because if this is the life, this is the life, then who’d argue?”

Musically, the album never really slows down for any one track. Usually, the placement of the slower (or faster tracks if you typically produce slow tempo music) is critical, because it breaks the monotony of the album; it allows what follows after to feel distinct from the prior tracks – it helps to build momentum of some sort or other. It is very difficult to produce an album that spans over thirty-minutes at a constant tempo – and this is more of a reality at the opposite extremes. Of course for diehards of any genre of music, this is not a problem, but for the average listener it become sonically overwhelming or unimaginative. However, that is not the case of “Tourist History.” Two Door Cinema Club produces an album that is an incredible listen from beginning to end, without ever making the listener think that the album is insipid. And how did they pull this off? It comes back to all their cues; though they are all present in each song, the mixology of each song is different. Some songs have more of the new wave, others of the electropop, and yet others of the post-punk revival.

What more can I say? Two Door Cinema Club has released an amazing debut album – if they can manage to avoid the hype-machine and extraneous influences (and of course manage to keep getting along with one another), there is definite potential here. Considering the variety of influences, the soundscape of the future has unlimited possibilities. And as for the present, do not pass up “Tourist History.” Okay, I admit, they could have come up with a catchier name, but just let the music talk for itself.

Track Listing:
1. Cigarettes In The Theatre
2. Come Back Home
3. Do You Want It All?
4. This Is The Life
5. Something Good Can Work
6. I Can Talk
7. Undercover Martyn
8. What You Know
9. Eat That Up, It’s Good For You
10. You’re Not Stubborn

Keep up with Two Door Cinema Club at their homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.

Here is their video for “Something Good Can Work” from their YouTube Channel: twodoorcinemaclub.

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