Let’s hope Two Door Cinema Club have broad shoulders because there’s a hell of a lot of expectation weighing down on them. Insiders have been murmuring for months about the band and their music and how they were picked up by ultra cool French label Kitsuné Music. And how they remixed a track for Phoenix and that they were working with Phillipe Zdar – not to mention inclusions in the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2010’ list and State’s own ‘Faces of 2010’. It’s an awful lot to have playing on your mind when you’re preparing your first LP after just being plucked from the obscurity afforded by a rainy seaside town like Bangor.
And here it is. Tourist History is named, so the band have said, for the popularity of their hometown as a destination with holidaymakers and for their own travels relating to their musical vocation. Straight off we can get any highfalutin’ notions out of the way: this is not some sort of groundbreaking album. In fact, it’s not even particularly original in its composition. But that’s not to say it’s a disappointment. What it is, is a fast-paced chunk of pop-savvy indie rock and, when taken at face value, it’s quite a good one. With the record clocking-in at just over 30 minutes, songs like ‘This Is the Life’ and ‘Undercover Martyn’ get right to the point and fizzle with energy. The sound, too, is ambitious; there are floorfilling staccato beats aplenty and guitar hooks that would warm the cockles of Johnny Marr’s heart.
If there is a drawback, though, it’s in the lack of variation. Aside from the odd misfire, the 10 tracks are individually strong but, when listened to in its entirety, the album can start to feel repetitive – especially beyond the halfway point. It could be the mark of a band consciously playing it safe or perhaps it’s because, by employing a drum machine instead of a real sticksman, the temptation was there to keep the tempo set to a brisk pace. Either way, you get the feeling that the record could have fulfilled its true potential if only it had been executed with a bolder approach.
Okay then, so it’s not perfect but Tourist History is still a satisfying listen. Yes, Two Door Cinema Club trade in a sound that’s not overly inventive and which has a relatively limited shelf life but, when taken on its own merits, they’ve produced a collection of upbeat songs that’s robust and – at times – electrifying. Hell, there’ll be few dancefloor tracks better than ‘I Can Talk’ this year. The gut feeling is that they can still do better and it’s something they’ll have to start tackling with their next studio effort. If they can nail that then, who knows, it just might allow them to outlast the wave they’re currently riding on.