On their fourth studio album Two Door Cinema Club fully embrace the 80’s synth and colorful pop that they hinted at on 2016’s Gameshow. False Alarm paints the Northern Irish indie rock band as a group that is willing to take calculated risks and have a blast while doing so. Whereas other artists may find their comfort in a familiar sound from album to album, Two Door Cinema Club have little issue with experimenting with a variety of new ideas and fresh takes on their songwriting.
Working under the tutelage of trusted producer Jacknife Lee (who produced all but one of their studio albums), Two Door Cinema Club have little issue with rocking with a swagger that was missing on their earlier releases. Guitarist Sam Halliday and bassist Kevin Baird each provide brilliant synths throughout the LP that has several redeeming qualities around it.
Lead single, “Talk” makes it crystal clear that Two Door Cinema Club is evolving into an experimental indie rock and power pop band, and they make little apologies as they groove through the shiny track. Lead vocalist/guitarist Alex Trimble never sounds like he is uncomfortable with this new sound; in fact, he exudes newfound confidence as he transcended my expectations for his vocal range. Other songs such as “Satisfaction Guaranteed” live up to their name as the track leaves the listener wanting to navigate through the rest of the record. Lyrically on the song, Trimble showcases a series of thoughts on our culture and way of living as he sings, “Homemade television/Won’t come up that easily/Under the waves/Buried deep in the roots of lemonade/It’s awake/Worldwide exhibition/Won’t come up that easily.” His observations are fairly spot on as the album unfolds and there are only small moments where the LP loses some of its early momentum.
“Think” is one of those songs that sounds more like the structure of their earlier work on an album like Beacon, yet Two Door Cinema Club uses several vocal effects on this song to give it a new flavor. It’s a song that will have to grow on me, as I saw this as one of their rare misses on a record that had so much going for it. “Nice To See You” on the other hand, kicks off with a killer bass line from Baird and sounds like it was ripped right out of the Sunset Boulevard soundtracks of the 80s. It’s hard to pigeonhole where Two Door Cinema Club were going on the song, but somehow it clicks at the right moments as the chorus soars the track to brilliant heights. Trimble sings triumphantly, “Ah, is it always the same?/It’s okay, I’m fine/I wait for something to change/I’m over the line(I’m over the line)/Why is it always a game?/There’s no win, no pride/Wait for attention to fade/It’s a cheap design.” The rapped verse at the end of the song featuring Open Mike Eagle is an unexpected touch on a song that probably could have lived without that particular part. However, it just goes to show the effort that Two Door Cinema Club put in to be different on this record.
“Dirty Air” reignites the magic found in the early sections of the set with some bellowing vocals from Trimble to open the song that sounds like a New Order b-side. The familiar soaring TDCC chorus kicks back in to prevent the song from sounding too dark and out of place on the bright album, “Satellite” continues with some of the lowered synth tones and lower vocal register from Trimble. Both of these songs were curious ways of closing out the record, yet the chorus on each saves them from falling too far off the spectrum of the entire album’s vision.
Album closer, “Already Gone” doesn’t cover too much new territory from what was described in the aforementioned tracks, except for some nice falsetto vocals. The song reminded me a bit of a song that Prince would right in his prime. Overall, Two Door Cinema Club take some significant risks on this album that was filled with plenty of surprises. While not all of their nods to the past work, I still applaud their effort to make an exciting record that stands out among most of the albums that have been released this year.