I love it when such a simple band can bring several layers of complexity to their music, when traditionally simple styles can be wrapped up in lush textures to bring the music to satisfying resolutions at each coda. Two Door Cinema Club prove that even being a 3-piece band, such matters have no real definition when it comes to their music. Beacon is a shining example of how simplicity and technicality can mix together confidently, working for each other rather than just trying to outshine each other.
Beacon continues where Tourist History basically left off, expanding on the indie electro-pop grandeur but with some songs taking on more of a post-rock vibe rather than the tendency for syrupy sweetness. Leading off with “Next Year,” traditional TDCC blitzes and blossoms with an arpeggiated synth lead before heading off into a carefree verse full of uplifting melody. Alex Trimble’s stellar vocal work resonates with the perfect amount of boyish charm, shake, and vibrato. Sam Halliday and Kevin Baird both drive the music, perfectly complementing each transition with their instrumentation, especially in the big band/swing era-influenced bridge that comes out of nowhere and works wonders. “Handshake” is a predominately electronic track that fizzles and pops across the board, but it’s the pounding bass line that gives the song its addicting groove. “Wake Up” comes back to the post-rock flair mentioned earlier, utilizing a buzzy guitar lead and siren-sounding synth to back the discontent but driven feel.
Things slow down with “Sun” and when the chord-driven piano chimes in along with Trimble’s fragile voice, it feels somber until the rest of the band comes in. It transitions into a beautiful love song that becomes even more romanticized when a horn section comes in toward the end for an aurally pleasing piece. At this point the record starts to settle down with more melancholy songs (“Someday,” “Sleep Alone”), but it’s the “The World Is Watching” that truly captures a unique feel dynamically due to it being a duet. Trimble’s vocal coupled with guest vocalist Valentina creates a vibrant and bright harmony, perfectly placed within the music for a compelling track.
“Settle” is one of the few songs on the record that seems to not have much of a shape musically; it feels distant and hard to get into. Luckily, the positives far outweigh the negatives and it doesn’t derail the record by any means. “Spring” and “Pyramid” take it back though, both of the stunning ballads with a dizzying feel and layers upon layers of noises and sounds that give the sound a larger shadow than you might hear upon first listen – especially with the bridge in the latter track. Coming to the end of the record, title track “Beacon” – rather than downplay the key element in their repertoire, layering – is another relatively upbeat track that follows more on a surf-heavy washed out guitar and distant piano combined with Trimble’s highly reverbed vocals, giving it a gigantic feel and letting the record come to a close with a complete and positive vibe.
Although they’re still a relatively new band, Two Door Cinema Club have achieved a great deal of success with just two records and they have doubtless avoided the sophomore slump. Beacon has enough of the pop flair to keep them out in the open for many listeners to find them but also enough indie-rock charisma to remind everyone that they haven’t lost sight of their direction so far. The simplicity meeting technicality ended up proving triumphant for the trio.