Two Door Cinema Club - Gameshow (Parlophone)

Northern Ireland trio sound re-energized on return to form third album, their first in four years

Released Oct 14th, 2016 via Parlophone / By Dave Reynolds
Two Door Cinema Club - Gameshow (Parlophone) A band returning from a hiatus sometimes feels like a melodramatic device. A construct to give them something to talk about when they need to talk about their new album. How the effect of such an event caused them to come back as different people, with a different approach to creating music. And then ultimately they still bash away at the same instruments in the same way, singing about the same thing, stuck in the same old traps.

Two Door Cinema Club’s trajectory to taking over the world certainly wasn’t swift. Their debut album Tourist History was released on super-cool but slightly under-the-radar Kitsune records. Their success wasn’t instant, but thanks to insanely catchy indie-pop hooks, word of mouth, and touring the dickens out of it, momentum grew, sales grew, and their air miles accrued too. After touring the album globally for what felt like an extended period of time as more and more people caught on and an ever increasing number of tours got booked, second album Beacon quickly followed, looking to ride on the coattails of Tourist History. Before they knew it, they had been on the road for nigh on five years.

A recent interview with the band detailed the challenges they faced from spending such a long time on the road. Hospitalisation, alcoholism, depression, tensions within the band, and simply striving to be as big as they could be with scant regard for their own health. The trio of Alex Trimble, guitarist Sam Halliday and bassist Kevin Baird took a much needed break, and spent a year apart. When they started spending time together again, music wasn’t the first thing on the list. When it did come, ultimately resulting in them creating Gameshow, their third album, the sound of that hiatus is easy to hear. This is a very different record from that breakthrough debut album, and the relatively safe follow up.

Comeback single ‘Are We Ready (Wreck)’ lyrically speaks to that moment where everything started to fall apart. As the album opener it acts as a palette cleanser to dispatch the past and allow them to move on to the future in the rest of the album; both mentally and musically. 'Oh, what's it gonna take?/There's always something else' sounds more like a line from the aforementioned interview on how they didn’t know when or how to stop rather than a lyric, but that’s exactly what it is.

Once the past was tackled, second single ‘Bad Decisions’ shows where the band is going. Trimble sings almost throughout in a falsetto rarely heard before that can only be said to channel the kings of disco, The Bee Gees. Not only that, R&B and funk grooves permeate throughout. It sets a tone for the rest of the record, an album that is brave and explores ideas they haven’t done before.

They’ve switched from trying to create a memorable melody in a chorus to creating an entire groove that flows through an entire track. ‘Fever’ is a perfect example. We get a middle eight that’s a little more urgent than the chorus itself, as they slow down to wind in a Nile Rodgers-esque guitar hook.

And what else needs to be said? Title track ‘Gameshow’ is a complete monster that blends together aspects of their old and new sound. ‘Lavender’ recalls the subtle electronica of Phoenix. ‘Invincible’ sounds like Two Door Cinema’s attempt at a ballad. There’s a lot to take in, but it’s compelling. A 'hiatus’ may feel like a prop at times to cynics like me, but for Two Door Cinema Club, the result is them coming back with a boatload of new ideas, and a little more honesty, both in their music and between themselves.