Two Door Cinema Club make sun-drenched, guitar-led indie pop bearing song titles that, as the BBC observed, sound as if they were swiped from a badly-written self-help book. From this, one is tempted to conclude that the group’s time under the gimlet glare of expectant indie music lovers may span little more than the average length of their songs: about two and a half minutes. But before we slap this Northern Irish trio with that most virulent of terms, “landfill indie”, it should be noted that Two Door Cinema Club at least lack the risible seriousness of Keane and precarious self-importance of the Temper Trap (song titles notwithstanding), and therefore warrant some earnest attention. With this band, what you see is what you get, and the Bangor trio don’t pretend otherwise.
What we get with their debut effort, Tourist History, is a tonic of adrenaline-filled, youthful enthusiasm that may even inject a spring into the step of the hard-boiled cynic. This bent towards the naif is explained somewhat by the fact that many of the album’s songs were written while Messrs Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday, and Kevin Baird were finishing up high school. So we can forgive them of any cheese that may be secreted from their songs’ all-consuming catchiness. In fact, it is the group’s penchant for the effulgent and infectious, dished out in admirably pithy chunks, that landed them on the BBC long-list as a Sound of 2010 (the lads narrowly missed out on making the Top 5). One could even be forgiven for thinking that much of Tourist History, released by Parisian arbiters of cool Kitsune, was perversely manufactured for the dubious honour of radio and television overkill.
One common complaint of critics is that originality is not one of Tourist History’s selling points. Two Door Cinema Club are essentially a quirky hybrid of Bloc Party and the Shins trying to be a lighter version of the Foals if put to a Franz Ferdinand drum groove. The hit single “I Can Talk” is Bloc Party on amphetamines, with the curious “Ah-oh, ah-ah-oh” intro lifted wholesale from the Futureheads’ “Hounds of Love”. But this overt reference-making seems to matter squat when you find yourself humming along to lead vocalist Alex Trimble doing the Shins’ singer James Russell Mercer on “Do You Want It All”, or tickled by Sam Halliday’s taut guitar work on “What You Know”. To swindle Jarvis Cocker of a phrase, Tourist History is “a holiday for the ears”, so there is really no reason to be po-faced about it.
When Two Door Cinema Club aren’t beguiling us with twinkling melodies, spine-tingling choruses, and disco rhythms, they produce slightly more adventurous nuggets like “Something Good Can Work” and “Eat That Up, It’s Good for You”. On the former, the band displays a fledgling nous for the reigning Afropop of the day, while on the latter, they tempt us with a charming slice of electro-pop that harbours a molten reverb-heavy instrumental that is wickedly synesthetic.
While invention may not be a going concern, Two Door Cinema Club have proven on their maiden voyage that they jolly well know how to sway a crowd with infective pop gems and seemingly little sweat. That is certainly something deserving of the kind of swagger and confidence the group have displayed in performance. That Tourist History is a light-hearted, jaunty affair bearing an undeniable pop sensibility rather than a high-stakes erudite magnum opus a la Foals’ Antidotes makes it an easy act to follow. Two Door Cinema Club’s flame might just burn beyond 2010.
// Notes from the Road
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