Two Door Cinema Club: “Keep On Smiling” album review – happy-go-lucky album moderately fun but indecisive


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Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A buoyant indie trio with a glassy, electronic-dance polish, most known for 2010’s Tourist History, reservations have always been in the forefront for a band who never bettered their debut. Even though the follow-up of Beacon was generally well received amongst the fans – and Gameshow revered less so – can their fifth full-length raise some eyebrows?

When the Northern Irish trio of Two Door Cinema Club released False Alarm in 2019, it pivoted on the well-brandished indie bops that they were known for – but also tipped the scales in favour of a more ballsy, experimental flavour. This time around – diving in and out of the pandemic – it looks more of the same with them dabbling into a progressive feel of alternative-dance and 80s Talking Heads synth-pop with notables Lucky and Wonderful Life hitting the headlines.

Regardless of a seemingly “summer album” being released at the trailing back-end in September, the album is a fun happy-go-lucky about staying positive and striding with your best foot forward, as the name preemptively suggests.

As the trio dropped the plucky UK indie that ran through the 00’s and whipped out their synths eager to catch a whiff of what Glass Animals were cooking, you can hardly blame them for trying to stay afloat in an ever-changing market of difficulty. Hell, even Alex Turner and his band of merry men even altered their course charting to the moon. But when it comes to changing your sound, you have to do it with bold resolution. Here, it seems that the band ultimately faltered at the first hurdle.

Although the likes of Lucky, A Wonderful Life and Everybody’s Cool offers a little something extra to a French dressing of cosmic feelings, the rest of it offers very little else, with many being lost to the ethereal vast of Stranger Things synth of nothingness. The two Portal-esque Messenger AD / HP‘s tropes of two minutes again, offer nothing but a number to add and it’ll forever remain a question I’ll ask to artists who decide to add in songs like this..

While Little Piggy goes full circle drawing inspiration from 80s vibes of The Talking HeadsBurning Down The House, both follow-ups of Millionaire and High fall short as the band decides to get serious on an album conceptualised with colour. Not the best of moves, and it shows here. The bongo undertones and extended vocal arrangements in Feeling Strange really feels like a 80s glitterball fever dream which albeit good fun but it seems like the guys found a what’s this button do moment forever playing with the Daft Punk experiment trigger of vocal altering that always has to make an appearance in an 80s-esque electronic dance album, I guess.

With a good moral behind it, it is an album that is fun if played scarcely on the dance floor but is a far cry from Tourist History works. I’ve made my peace with it that the giants of their embellished sound from the first two will never be toppled. I’m not too sure what I was really expecting in all honesty, but accepting that its in the same headspace as False Alarm is still a wee bit disappointing. Maybe it’s time to close the story of 2DCC for good.

Release date: 02 September 2022

2 responses to “Two Door Cinema Club: “Keep On Smiling” album review – happy-go-lucky album moderately fun but indecisive”

  1. EclecticMusicLover avatar

    Your review’s a bit harsh, but you do make some valid points. While overall, “Keep on Smiling” doesn’t match the buoyant effervescence of “Tourist History”, many of its tracks are pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. manvmusic avatar

      Yeah, that’s understandable, if you like it. It’s got quite a nostalgic charm to it to say the least, but for me, the songs seem to just meld into one throughout!

      Liked by 1 person

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