Two Door Cinema Club’s is making “Bad Decisions” among other pop-laced tracks with the release of Gameshow, the band’s third album. The Irish indie-rock trio is back at it again after a four-year hiatus since their last album, Beacon. Their latest release fully embraces an alt-pop styling, a decidedly different path than their first two albums took. Regardless, the group finds success in their musical venture. Gameshow is set to be released this Friday, October 14th, through Parlophone Records.
Lyrically, lead single “Are We Ready? (Wreck)” kicks things off with the core theme of the album. Lead singer Alex Trimble’s “discomfort with modern life” serves as the underlying basis of several tracks throughout the album. “Are We Ready? (Wreck)” particularly highlights Trimble’s aversion to the rampant consumerism and materialism in today’s society. The instrumentation, backing “na na na’s” throughout the song, and slight reverb of the vocals underscore the theme of mindlessness. Ultimately, everything comes together to create a track that gets stuck in your head for reasons you can’t quite explain.
Were falsetto-driven verses on “Bad Decisions” the right decision to make? Some may find the track’s vocal stylings to be less than ideal. The critique of “Generation Information” continues with the overarching theme of the album, alongside a continuing deviation from the band’s prior musical stylings. Despite the stumbles with “Bad Decisions,” TDCC recovers handily with “Ordinary.” The track’s infectious grooves and melodies are a clear highlight of the album, and situate it to be a sure-fire hit.
The album’s mid-section is unfortunately somewhat lackluster, but not due to the tracks themselves, which stand well on their own. Rather, the transitions between songs create a cacophony that ultimately disrupts the overall listening experience. While the roaring distortion of synths and guitars in title-track “Gameshow” make it a high-energy anthem with a boisterous conclusion, the follow-up with the more casual “Lavendar” is almost jarring. Swapping the track and its semi-sporadic energy with the more lively “Fever” – driven by a funk-driven bassline and disco-groove – creates a more natural progression for the album.
The band looked towards “Prince, Madonna, McCartney, Chic, Krautrock, neo soul and modernist pop” for inspiration in the music-writing process. Closing off the album, such inspirations can be seen in the album’s “Invincible,” a power ballad that can be seen to draw inspiration from works such as Prince’s “Purple Rain.” While the track could have probably worked better as the closing or penultimate track, it manages to hold the transition into a hidden gem on the album, “Good Morning.” Picking a single track that could best represent the feel and style of the album, “Good Morning” is the obvious choice. However, the track is followed up by “Surgery” which would seem more at home on a b-side collection, combining several of the aspects where the album falls short (falsettos, muddiness in the vocals, and a discordant sound all-around).
“Je Viens De La” – or, “I Come From There,” in case you don’t speak French – closes off the album in a strong manner. Like “Good Morning,” the track takes nearly all of what TDCC does right on the album and combines it to make an contagious track and a powerful closer. While Trimble’s falsetto makes a return, the execution on “Je Viens De La” is significantly better executed than before. Overall the track is energetic and lively, the lyrics and instrumentation well-composed. “Show me the world I’m searching for and take me home” Trimble implores, “what a world, what a world” he croons, re-emphasizing the theme of disconnect with today’s society.
Overall, the musical stylings of Gameshow are a step out of the band’s comfort zone, again underscoring the overall theme of the album. Trimble describes the world “a bit like a game show at times, fickle, false, fleeting, feeling unable to wrap your head around it,” and the album reflects that. Venturing into the avant-garde world of music inspired by the likes of late-music icons Prince and David Bowie, Two Door Cinema Club strives to push musical boundaries where others are not. Taking such a markedly different turn in their music, TDDR does have its hiccups with Gameshow, but those are bound to come when such risks are taken. Ultimately, Gameshow features a number of successes and improvements compared to the band’s previous work, and uncovers vast amounts of musical potential in the process.
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