The first time I saw Two Door Cinema Club playing live the guy standing in front of me wasn’t dancing. It was a warm, stormy night but the crack of lightning could hardly be heard over the guitars raging up on stage. And this guy wasn’t even really moving. You know the sort of move where it’s some sound you’re vaguely interested in but it hasn’t really taken you? He was doing that sort of disinterested one-foot-stamping move and what appeared to be nodding but might well have been the product of the natural gravitational forces being exerted at that moment on his head and upper neck. I, meanwhile, was at polar opposites, bouncing off every wall and person made available to me and soaking up the spectacular live rendition of ‘Tourist History‘, undoubtedly one of my favourite albums of 2010. Noddy the foot stamper was seriously cramping my style. So I did what any normal, happy Two Door Cinema Club fan would have done at that point. I grabbed the guy’s forearm, raised it in the air and slammed it forward in time with the beat. This sir, I would have said if he could have heard me/not been already freaked out by the entitled way I’d grabbed his arm, is how you dance to Two Door Cinema Club.
Such was the force of ‘Tourist History’, all high-pitched, squealing guitars, high-pitched, sometimes squealing Alex Trimble vocals, thumping great choruses lending themselves to the very displays of hooliganism outlined above and youth! so much youth!, that it was never not going to do well for the three-piece from Northern Ireland. Across ten tracks, rarely contemplative, always tight and rollicking, the lads seemed like the best reminder of how to have fun, high-octane fun, in a rock band since the release of Bloc Party’s debut ‘Silent Alarm’ in 2005. But where ‘Silent Alarm’ was spooky, unsettling and aggressive in parts, Two Door Cinema Club seemed to have one, undeniably excellent mode: explosive, guitar-driven radio-ready rock. There was nuance in ‘Tourist History’ but by the time I’d grabbed Noddy’s arm and narrowly avoided an assault charge, it didn’t seem to matter; I, and now Noddy, was lost in the euphoria of being young, energetic, euphoric.
Thus the problem of a sophomore album. The boys toured the shit out of their debut so that the prospect of ‘Beacon’ (released in September) so resembling the sonic form of a bouncy ball became more and more unlikely. Bright eyed and bushy tailed only keeps you going so long. Inevitably, late nights, lugging gear, tour buses and absence have to give rise to some less ebullient behaviour and recording. First single ‘‘ hinted at more caliginous themes but retained much of the sound of the debut. ‘Sun’ is different. There’s more of Trimble’s sensationally pure middle register, more traditional rock leanings with riffs that aren’t the equivalent of ‘strum as fast as you can’ and a generally more subdued impression of what it means to be a Cinema Clubber. Now, even the more upbeat chorus waits for Trimble to initiate the sentiment before kicking in, trumpets somehow sweeter, less urgent than the guitars we’ve come to expect. ‘Sun’ is less immediately pop, less concerned with battering you with sound but no less fantastic for it. This is Two Door Cinema Club, considered. It might make me ruminate a second longer next time, but I’d still force Noddy to dance to it.
Two Door Cinema Club – Sun