Northern Irish alt-pop trio Two Door Cinema Club has reinvented themselves time and again, learning to embrace the mainstream while continuing to take creative risks in new album ‘False Alarm’.
The Suburbs. This Is Happening. Contra. Brothers. Some of the most iconic records in recent alt-rock history took over the charts in 2010, but Two Door Cinema Club held their own among the giants. Hailing from Northern Ireland, the trio’s debut album Tourist History stunned with its exciting burst of eclectic energy. Nearly ten years on and “What You Know” still feels like a fresh take on what it means to be a rock band in the 21st century.
Following up a bonafide critical darling like Tourist History would be a challenge for any great band. Expectations were high, but it wasn’t until the band’s third album that people felt the band’s star began to fade. 2016’s Gameshow was full of confusion, a creative identity crisis that gave fans whiplash. Throughout their career, Two Door Cinema Club expertly straddled the cavernous critical divide between guitar-rock and forward-thinking pop. Standing firmly in their lane, the trio is back with a career-defining juggernaut of a fourth record. False Alarm proves once again that Two Door Cinema Club is a force to be reckoned with.
Listen: False Alarm – Two Door Cinema Club
Synthpop, electrofunk, and psychedelia blend together to form a Two Door Cinema Club sound that is somehow right on brand and completely out of character. Nods to David Bowie and Talking Heads mesh with more modern references. Highlights like “So Many People” and “Already Gone” instantly recall contemporaries like Tame Impala and Phoenix. Mid-album charmer “Break,” according to singer Alex Trimble, comes from “the McCartney school of songwriting” but hints Cage the Elephant to a younger ear. Two Door Cinema Club manages to be ahead of the curve and deeply attuned to the current trends of the industry. Nothing about False Alarm is predictable. Two Door Cinema Club have all but ensured this record won’t be lost in the fog of alternative radio’s homogeneity. Each song spins a genre-defying web of its own.
Showing off versatility doesn’t have to mean complete reinvention. Album openers “Once” and “Talk” give fans the huge festival-ready hooks they crave. Shimmering and bright, “Once” feels like bursting through crystal clear waters, coming up for air on a warm summer’s day. “Talk” takes clear inspiration from the 80s in both style and substance (the video is equal parts Talking Heads and Devo, quirky and universal).
Watch: “Talk” – Two Door Cinema Club
For each track that feels like home for Two Door Cinema Club, there’s one that challenges expectations. Take “Nice To See You,” which features Zimbabwe’s Afrofusion outfit Mokoomba in maybe the trio’s biggest departure to date. Chicago rapper Open Mike Eagle brilliantly accentuates what would otherwise be just another synth-pop serenade. These collaborations may sound truly unfathomable on paper but don’t feel forced in the slightest.
False Alarm will split opinions. It may feel too eclectic to be thoughtful, but therein lies its success. The record is loose, ambitious, lively, and completely authentic. Over nearly ten years, Two Door Cinema Club have embraced the mainstream while taking big-league creative risks that pay off (almost) every time.
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