Tourist History

Chock full of singles, nevertheless Two Door Cinema Club's debut disappoints as a whole

In years to come, we might view the release of Two Door Cinema Club’s debut album as the moment that Northern Irish pop music became cosmopolitan. This might not initially seem like an accolade worth bestowing, but with its innate sense of style and culture, the Bangor three-piece have managed to craft an entirely self-aware and self-conscious album which could point the way forward for pop music in Northern Ireland.

After scoring an underground success with their self-released, self-financed single ‘Something Good Can Work’, there seemed to be an electricity clinging to these three young men, a palatable sense of excitement that the musical spark they possessed could take them Very Far Indeed. A sprightly, melodic slice of indie-pop, the single garnered nods of approval from people in all the right places, and was instrumental in landing the boys with a record deal on the super-hip French label, Kitsune, and a spot on Later with Jools Holland.

Endorsement like this doesn’t come without merit, and pretty soon the likes of Kanye West was blogging about them. Subsequent single ‘I Can Talk’ came accompanied by a wonderful Goddard influenced video (see below), and Tourist History arrives not too long after, ready to make it’s way into the hands of greedy indie fans all over the UK and Ireland.

Tentatively kicking off with a hesitant sounding bass and guitar intro, ‘Cigarettes in the Theatre’ explodes into a stridently melodramatic pop masterpiece, all swooning guitars and jittery bass. Alex Trimble possesses one of those sweetly innocent voices that makes everything he sings sound like sunlight shining through honey, regardless of dark his lyrics may be.

Kev Baird on bass and Sam Halliday on guitar do an ample job of helping the song kick off into the stratosphere, and by the time it collapses in upon itself, we’re aware that we’ve just experienced a truly world-class pop song, written with a lyricist's eye for detail but a hipster’s sense of excitement.

‘Come Back Home’ takes us on a similar journey, a thrilling rush of energy, romance and excitement. Then ‘Do You Want it All’ does it all again, and ‘This is the Life’ repeats the trick, by which point it has become apparent that Two Door Cinema Club are absolute masters of the inherent dynamics of a classic three minute pop song - but remain totally clueless as to how an album should work.

Each of these songs could function as a single in their own right, but when placed side-by-side threaten to expose Two Door Cinema Club as having an absurdly limited melodic and thematic range. In truth, these songs all sound the same, they all do the same thing, they all seem to be about the same subjects. Maybe it’s something to do with the iPod generation, but there’s a definite sense, after having listened to Tourist History’s ten tracks in the order they’ve been sequenced, that to do so is a completely redundant act.

Either way, whilst it might not be the era-defining classic that some had hoped for, Tourist History definitely points to a glittering future for Two Door Cinema Club. If they can somehow manage to grow into the album format and learn a few more tricks, then its entirely plausible that they’re going to be with us for a very long time to come, defining styles and pointing the way forward as others follow in their path.

Two Door Cinema Club play Mandela Hall, QUBSU on Tuesday, December 7.

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