Review: 'Gameshow'

Image credit: Two Door Cinema Club

Two days before a headline set at 2014’s Latitude festival, Two Door Cinema Club frontman Alex Trimble was hospitalised by stress-related gastric bleeding, bringing several years spent firmly in the mainstream to an abrupt halt. The band went into near total hibernation for 18 months, and have only now re-emerged with their third effort, Gameshow.

Tourist History, the County Down band’s debut, partly explains TDCC’s Icarus-like fame arc. The combination of catchy, memorable indiepop, combined with immensely slick advertising work that saw TDCC soundtracking everything from Microsoft Office commercials to Indonesian phone adverts (no, really) was destined to propel them to fame at a velocity that could only be halted by a near-disaster like Trimble’s collapse.

Listening to Gameshow, you’d be forgiven for thinking Trimble enjoyed the hospital food, because these songs sound ready made to thrust TDCC back into the spotlight. The children’s choir chant that opens the record sounds like someone’s been reading too many coffee table books about Coldplay, and the chiming guitars and polished production pays a great tribute to Foals and other bands, with one eye on a headlining set at Glasto.

However, this is where the mainstream’s influence ends. Trimble's lyrics focuses on his deep alienation with modern culture - “I saw the world today/it comes in green and grey/ refrigerator humming” - and whilst there have been more incisive takedowns of internet culture than the mantra “Generation information”, Trimble’s intent to hit back at the identikit youth culture TDCC have influenced in the past is clear.

The 'jaded rockstar' outlook is perhaps not the most original or interesting lyrical content to digest, and that’s why highlights “Lavender” and “Je viens de la” stand out – the former’s powerful guitar stomp and the latter’s discorock attack takes front seat over Trimble’s vocals. In fact, the album’s weakest moment, the limp ballad 'Invincible', falls down precisely because the energetic rock that leads elsewhere takes a backseat to Trimble’s rather meandering verse “It's gonna be a lonely, lonely road ahead/If I can't find a way/To make things right with you”.

Luckily, the majority of the album is peppered with small melodic joys that gives Gameshow extra listening value, like the searing solo halfway through 'Bad Decisions' or the synth burble and processed vocals that open 'Surgery'. These flashes of inspiration and inventiveness are bright enough to lift Gameshow above the copycat records that have proliferated during TDCC’s hiatus, and will surely mean the band will have to adapt to nationwide fame a second time round. 

8/10

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