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Album Review: Two Door Cinema Club – Gameshow

 
By on Wednesday, 26th October 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Two Door Cinema Club Gameshow album coverBeing childhood friends who share musical interests often provides a massive nudge towards the formation of a band. However, a longtime friendship may not necessarily be enough to hold a band together. Two years ago, Two Door Cinema Club cancelled their headline set at Latitude 2014. While the official reason for their pulling out of the festival in Suffolk was frontman Alex Trimble’s hospitalisation in Seattle, unbeknownst to us, discord had been ramping up within the band, reaching a breaking point.

According to this interview they did with DIY last month, the pursuit of the next big success in their career since leaving their small-town Northern Irish towns caused friction within. The former schoolfriends found themselves at odds with each other, unsure of whether they were going to continue as a unit. Having rediscovered themselves as individuals and after giving themselves time off from the band and from each other, they came out of their hiatus still wanting to make music as Two Door Cinema Club. Unfortunately, ‘Gameshow’ seems like a step back, as merely a peek back through the music that has made them who they are, rather than being an obvious, positive next step in their evolution.

In a chat with Steve Lamacq live on BBC 6 Music the week of the LP’s release, Alex Trimble explained their respect for Michael Jackson. The admiration for him comes through loud and clear on the vocal styling chosen by Trimble for most of this record. Not a friend of the falsetto? Step away from this review, turn around and run. If you’re okay with a man singing in a higher register than is natural, then keep reading. The apex of falsetto on this album, if you will, is ‘Je Viens De La’, “I wake gently with you” in French. With its wealth of synths and big beats, it’s an unabashed tribute to disco, another potential land mine in popular music. Another disco number, ‘Fever’, begins in a minimalist, promising way like Def Leppard’s ‘Love Bites’, except there’s that falsetto again. As a keen singer, it’s hard to listen to this album, wanting to throw some Halls Soothers in Trimble’s direction.

With the falsetto and the overt nods to disco, their new sound seems so far away from their debut ‘Tourist History’ that relied more heavily on guitars than beats and production. For long-time fans, it’s jarring and takes getting used to. There are, however, some moments of brilliance. ‘Lavender’, whose title I’m assuming is a nod to another high-pitched wonder, Prince, begins with a note progression reminiscent of ‘Walk This Way’. The song shows the trio embracing funk and r&b, with an arresting, foot-stomping rhythm to provide the track with much needed structure.

‘Invincible’ invokes the introspective, emotional guitar lines popularised in the ‘80s, with an appropriately cheesy, boyband-y vocal to match: “every day I see him beside you / is he treating you all right? / the things I would do if I were in his shoes / no more taking for granted / everything I get from you”. It’s weirdly engaging, but you have to take a step back for a moment and remind yourself that this is a Two Door Cinema Club album, not one of Justin Timberlake’s. Confusion is expected here.

I had real reservations the first time I gave this record a spin. It seems ironic how much they are embracing synths on this album (and arguably, overproduction thanks to working with Jacknife Lee in Los Angeles), considering the first time I saw Two Door perform was on their first tour of North America as support for Phoenix. The band have made it clear that this album finally gave them the opportunity to do what they wanted, without self-censoring themselves as they might have before. I initially seriously wondered who this album was for, but after the kind of global success they had before the age of 25, it’s about time they made an album they wanted to make, even if they risk alienating their most devoted fans.

6/10

‘Gameshow’, Two Door Cinema Club’s third studio album, is out now on Parlophone Records. You can have a listen to the title track below. They’re on tour in the UK in January and February next year; all the dates are listed back here. For more on Two Door on TGTF, including my review of this album’s first single taster ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’, follow this link.

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Two Door Cinema Club / January and February 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 27th September 2016 at 8:00 am
 

Northern Irish alt-rockers Two Door Cinema Club have announced a run of UK tour dates to ring in 2017. The UK tour will follow the release of Two Door Cinema Club’s forthcoming new album ‘Gameshow’, which is due for release on the 14th of October via Parlophone Records. Editor Mary recently featured the latest single from the album, ‘Bad Decisions’, as our Video of the Moment #2185.

Live dates in Northern Ireland have yet to be announced for this tour, but the band have hinted at them on their official Facebook. Tickets for the following shows will go on general sale Friday the 30th of September at 9 AM. Those in the know can get in on the presale tomorrow from this page, Wednesday the 28th of September, at 9 AM. In the meantime, you can peruse TGTF’s extensive past coverage of Two Door Cinema Club, including a live review from earlier this year, right back this way.

Tuesday 24th January 2017 – Birmingham Academy
Wednesday 25th January 2017 – Cambridge Corn Exchange
Saturday 28th January 2017 – Manchester Apollo
Monday 30th January 2017 – Leeds Academy
Tuesday 31st January 2017 – Newcastle Academy
Thursday 2nd February 2017 – Liverpool University Guild of Students
Friday 3rd February 2017 – Glasgow Barrowland
Saturday 4th February 2017 – Glasgow Barrowland
Monday 6th February 2017 – Southampton Guildhall
Tuesday 7th February 2017 – Bristol Academy
Friday 10th February 2017 – London Alexandra Palace

 

Video of the Moment #2185: Two Door Cinema Club

 
By on Thursday, 15th September 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Two Door Cinema Club‘s third album ‘Gameshow’ will be out on in mid-October. Judging from what’s already been revealed from the new album, it could be a very polarising album for longtime fans. ‘Bad Decisions’ is the latest song (and video) to be unveiled, and it’s already getting loads of comments. The song itself looks like it was plucked out of the ’70s and ’80s, as Alex Trimble’s falsetto voice warbles like the Bee Gees and

I’d agree with some of them that the promo looks like it was conceived when they were on acid. However, the weirdness of this video could simply reflect the many challenges the band have faced since they had to cancel their headline appearance at Latitude 2014. I think it’s safe to say that all of us fans really had no idea the trials Alex, Sam and Kevin were going through. (You can read DIY’s cover story with the band here. Warning: it’s a lot to take in.) Yet there is also a sense of whimsy right from the start of this video, as if they’re laughing at themselves. If you’re a little sensitive about what your children/siblings watch, you might want to watch this first before showing it to them. You’ll see what I mean rather quickly. Watch the video for ‘Bad Decisions’ below. Two Door Cinema Club’s new album ‘Gameshow’ will drop on the 14th of October on Parlophone Records.

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Video of the Moment #2137: Two Door Cinema Club

 
By on Tuesday, 12th July 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Earlier this summer, Two Door Cinema Club returned to the fold, previewing their upcoming third album. ‘Gameshow’, produced by Jacknife Lee, will be released on the 14th of October on Parlophone Records. Seeing that October is quite a long time in the future in terms of digital time, the Northern Irish lads have unveiled the promo video for ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’, the first taster from the forthcoming long player. You can read my single review / essay from the end of June back here.

Making a statement about consumerism and popularity, it’s a genuinely terrifying video, if only because we know what Alex, Sam and Kevin are supposed to look like and in this, they’re all rubbery and gross. Let’s hope that their star remains high above enough so they’re not stuck selling candy bars one day, because now I can’t look at a candy bar the same way ever again. Ew. Watch the video for ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ below. For more on Two Door Cinema Club on TGTF, head here.

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Single Review / Essay: Two Door Cinema Club – Are We Ready? (Wreck)

 
By on Friday, 24th June 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

In just a few hours, Two Door Cinema Club will be returning to Glastonbury – to play on the Pyramid Stage, no less – after a 3-year absence from Worthy Farm. They’ve also had a 3-year absence from the record shops, following 2013’s oddball ‘Changing of the Seasons’ EP. In the world we live in, where mass consumerism is king and instant gratification is a key driver in buying decisions, 3 years away from the music industry machine is deemed pretty much akin to career suicide. However, according to the press release to promote their upcoming third album to be released in autumn, Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday and Kevin Baird just needed to unplug from all of it.

And unplug from it they did, from their crazy touring schedule and the crazy existence their lives had turned into. And, rather shockingly to me, they needed to unplug from each other, “to alleviate the increasing passive aggressive tensions within it [the band] and battle their various demons”. Wow. As we’ve seen many a band implode for no more reason than that old chestnut “familiarity breeds contempt”, perhaps the foresight to open the pressure valve before the strain became too great will prove the reason for Two Door’s longevity for years to come. Now, however, we should consider their first song since their forced separation, ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’.

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Having done the initial brainstorming and sketches for their third album over email – a necessity, now that Trimble lives in Portland, Halliday is in London and Baird now calls Los Angeles home – this first taster from ‘Gameshow’ indicates that we’re in for a potentially bumpy ride. Bumpy, in the sense that it appears Two Door have eschewed the obvious hooks and pop sensibilities that made them quick favourites with the kids. Trimble says of the new album, “We’re not embracing the pop that’s going on now in a melodic or structural sense. The two biggest influences for me were Prince and Bowie: both total pioneers who straddled that line between out-there pop and avant-garde craziness.” Uh huh. When asked about how the new single came out, Trimble explains:

While I was writing this single I discovered this term weltschmertz, the German word for being at odds with the world around you. The fact that it was a fully coined term and related to so many people that have existed and do exist made me feel it was okay to not exist on the same level as everyone else, it was okay to be comfortable doing your own thing. ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ was me…not attacking the world around me but outlining why I don’t really get it and why I don’t fit in with it.

The lines “you should be comfortable, don’t think at all” and “you get paid, don’t need any respect” seem to be direct nods to the disaffected creatures performing on a stage they became after becoming indie heroes to a global legion of fans. Through the song, there is a definite sense of mocking of society, albeit a veiled one, as Trimble highlights through his lyrics the inanity of a world made up of people who can’t think for themselves. Thematically, it recalls for me a single last year by The 1975, ‘Love Me’, in which Matthew Healy pointed out the decline of pop music as an art form because of the absurdity of success and how it has changed music.

It’s important to note that you can still dance to Two Door Cinema Club on ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’. This is a very good thing. But their songwriting formula has changed. As Trimble says, they’ve chosen to go towards a different kind of pop sound: one that is far less immediate, while allowing for a more cerebral approach with the lyrics. I have to admit, I didn’t like this song at all the first time I listened to it. It truly bothered all my senses that Sam Halliday’s guitar doesn’t sing on here as how I remembered it did on either of their first two albums. If you compare the new single to their previous efforts, there’s a scarily palpable void melodically. They certainly don’t sound like the band I remember.

However, after a few more listens, a strange thing happened. It began to grow on me. The emotional content comes across in spades in Trimble’s voice, and it’s a nice progression from the heart-wrenching vocal delivery in the chorus of ‘Beacon’ track ‘Sun’. Maybe this is the key to appreciating it properly? By choosing the road less travelled, Two Door Cinema Club have consciously taken artistic control of their music. However, this also means they’ve assumed all of the risk for their future. Did they make the right decision? We’ll have to wait until October to find out.

8/10

Two Door Cinema Club’s single ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ is available now. ‘Gameshow’, their forthcoming third album produced by Jacknife Lee, will be out on the 14th of October on Parlophone Records. To read any or all of TGTF’s comprehensive back archive of on Two Door, go here.

 

Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club with Bayonne at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 7th June 2016

 
By on Thursday, 9th June 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

The Two Door Cinema Club phenomenon has been ongoing for over a half decade now, and with their current brief American tour’s tickets flying out the door, it doesn’t show any signs of abating. Having been one of the first, if not the first journalist on this side of the pond to have written about them in years ago, it was especially sweet to have seen them play an intimate show (for them) at the Black Cat (around 700 capacity) Tuesday night in Washington. The last time they came through our city, they played DAR Constitution Hall (3,000 capacity) in 2013, so this date, along with the rest of the tour, was a concerted effort on their part to provide a more intimate experience ahead of a promised third album. I joked to Carrie before heading out to this show that I was praying for a civilised crowd, and one that would not require tasering to keep in line. At least where I was stood for the evening stage right, I was surrounded by respectful, vocally jubilant fans who wanted nothing else but a good night out watching their favourite band’s triumphant return in an intimate environment.

The opener for the evening and for this short tour of America this month was Austin-based musician Bayonne. The tall, mustachioed Roger Sellers is a force to be reckoned with live, even as a one-man band. To be honest, I was a little concerned to see how the music made by a guy with a tabletop full of electronics would fit with Two Door Cinema Club’s energetic indie rock. The first clue that should have told me everything was going to be okay was the drum standing next to Sellers’ setup.

Bayonne at Black Cat, Washington, DC

While it’s true that in live performance that an important element of Bayonne’s sound are Sellers’ generally dreamy, chill vocals put through various effects, the electronics act more as a conduit than merely a means to an end or lazy musicianship. He’s very animated live, more than happy to pound his drums like no-one’s business. When he’s not doing that, he’s making gestures in time to the music coming back to him, playing air synth and pulling funny faces to get the crowd going, or preening, clearly fancying himself as a gorgeous creature. These are things that would not be obvious if you watched his recent video for ‘Waves’. While he might not have been an obvious choice to support such a well-established and beloved band like Two Door, his animated and amusing performance did a great job in building further anticipation towards the main event.

After it was reported that at their show last Saturday at Cambridge, Massachusetts venue The Sinclair that Two Door Cinema Club had previewed their new album with a track called ‘Game Show’, I for one was chomping at the bit to see what the Irishmen had up their sleeves in new material. I’m a little confused by this one after hearing it live, I have to admit. It’s heavy on reverb, with more of a psych feel than anything they’ve ever done before. It sounded me to me like the now-defunct Cashier No. 9 and YAK had a baby. Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Trimble promised their third album is on its way before the end of the year, so stay tuned for that.

With two albums and an EP under their belt, they had plenty of material to fill a set well over an hour. However, they kept their set in DC close to 60 minutes, even with the encore, but smartly included their most fun, vibrant numbers to keep the energy in the room up for their entire time onstage. They swung back and forth and back again on tunes from their earliest days with 2010’s ‘Tourist History’ to those on 2012’s riskier ‘Beacon’ with ease. There’s something to be said about such a percussion-forward song like ‘Come Back Home’ being followed by an in-your-face song like ‘Wake Up’, with its closing shouts, and without skipping a beat.

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While the two albums are quite different, as part of Two Door’s ongoing oeuvre, they all fit together wonderfully, parts of the patchwork of their entertaining catalogue. As their set went on, the volume of the fans singing back lyrics to the band seemed to be getting louder, being sung with increased gusto. I smiled to myself as I was reminded that I indeed remembered nearly every word on every song of theirs. That’s proof of good songcraft, of the incredible ability to write a memorable, toe-tapping tune.

When it came time for the encore and they began with ‘Someday’, I almost lost it. After seeing them perform the song a few years ago, I kept it close to my heart, its optimistic tone helping me keep the faith, even when things seemed to be going totally wrong and badly. It was shortly after that show of theirs that I tacked a copy of the song’s lyrics on my cupboard door at work. Those lyrics are still tacked there to this day: they remind me daily that fate works in mysterious ways and to keep my trust in it, no matter what. In a similar way, you can say going to a Two Door Cinema Club concert, for that hour or so watching them put on an amazing show, is a fantastic salve for whatever in your life is troubling you. In the song ‘Next Year’, Trimble sings the beautiful lines, “if you think of me, I will think of you.” And we’ll always remember Two Door Cinema Club and their crowd-pleasing songs.

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After the cut, Two Door Cinema Club’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club with Bayonne at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 7th June 2016

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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