Gameshow, the third studio album from the Irish indie-rock band Two Door Cinema Club after a nearly four-year silence, is a far cry from the band’s typical sound. If anything, it’s a loud diatribe that seems to stay fueled by lyrics meant to bemoan today’s society. The album’s second track, “Bad Decisions,” calls attention to the implications of social media as it concerns human connection, as lead vocalist Alex Trimble sings, “Lately / Think I’ve had enough / Of generation information every station / And I can’t turn it off.” It’s an encore to the album’s first track, “Are We Ready (Wreck)” that illuminates our hypnosis at the hand of a consumer-laden culture. But in spite of its poetics, if you’re looking for an ode to one of Two Door Cinema Club’s previous albums, Gameshow is more akin to The 1975 mixed with a pinch of Twenty One Pilots-esque vocals, and not in a good way.
The only thing this album preserves is Two Door Cinema Club’s classic funky basslines. Nevertheless, the result is what sounds like lazy musicality—recycled disco beats meet the occasional ’80s rock guitar lick. Though one could argue that the album’s imaginative lyrics carry through and help listeners largely ignore what the album lacks musically, with each continued listen, the lyrics fade away, and one simply stops listening to the lyrics altogether—the only thing that gets stuck in your head is a consistent and rather annoying techno beat. Rather than standing as Two Door Cinema Club’s triumphant and energetic return to the music world, Gameshow feels half-baked, haphazard, and generally half-assed.
In an attempt to inject potent and forward-thinking lyrics into a pulsating techno beat, the lyrics come off as an afterthought rather than a vehicle to carry the album’s message. As a result, Gameshow is a difficult album to pick apart. Maybe it’s not meant to be, but to be fair, it is an album that deserves to be applauded for its efforts. In some ways, going the ’80s rock and disco route, though at the cost of taking a left-hand turn away from what made the band a name in the indie-pop world, is a move that makes some sense, though it’s a road already trod by other musicians to far more interesting results. What the album’s listeners and fans of the band get is a kind of dull sense of deja vu.
Trimble ascends into his falsetto range for most of the album’s songs, only to ultimately sound like an unimpressive imitation of Tyler Joseph mixed with ’70s metal. The vocals are not bad, but they’re just not memorable or anything like the Trimble fans had come to love. With a dramatic change to the band’s musical style both lyrically and instrumentally, one would think Gameshow would strike a chord with listeners both in and outside their already-large fanbase, but evidently Gameshow just feels like we’ve heard it from someone else before. Nothing that Two Door Cinema Club has ever produced before explains this album’s newfound niche in the vein of funk-pop, but what we have now is a disco album disguised as indie rock.
The title track “Gameshow” is arguably the most memorable on the album—something you actually might hear as the sound accompanying the ending credits of an ’80s film. Trimble ditches the falsetto on this track for something a little more in his range. “Gameshow” channels The Strokes with success. Trimble goes on about how, “I’m a Lynchian dream, made of plasticine,” and, “Somehow this strange love makes it easier /Just give me something, anything to live by / My blood is pumping so fast, I’ve forgotten why I try.” “Gameshow” explains perhaps why Two Door Cinema Club has come unhinged, and for the better.
There’s nothing wrong with changing and playing with a band’s established musical style, but to so abruptly abandon the sound that brought Two Door Cinema Club to the top of the charts makes for a generally confusing and unlikeable album—that is, if you are looking for an album that is anything like Beacon or Tourist History. If not, then Gameshow is a good amalgamation of pop, indie, rock, and electronic music all swirled into one thematically jam-packed album.
Featured Image By Parlophone Records