Not so much a difficult-second-album review as a difficult second-album-review, as Alex Trimble and his cohorts have, apparently effortlessly, tossed out another competent album of breezy indie-pop tunes, albeit with no readily obvious difference from their debut.
There are occasional unexpected moments – Pyramid struts along to a glam shuffle, there’s a scratchy guitar loop to open the album, and a truly odd guitar solo that sounds like Billy Corgan with the effects pedals turned off – but none of these tracks would have been a sore thumb on Tourist History.
But despite this familiarity, there should be no underestimating Trimble’s songwriting gift – the organic, hype-free growth of Two Door’s popularity a testament to his ability to connect with afficionados of simple indie pleasures. It’s best showcased in Sun, both the best tune and most distinctive track, with a funk-Foals groove underpinning a joyous, brassy, juicy peach of a chorus. Lead-off single Sleep Alone ups the pace with a soaring refrain, although there’s a suspicion that the introduction was written with the sole purpose of making a festival crowd clap along.
The contributions of the other permanent members should be credited, too. In places, the supple and imaginative bass playing is the only thing that separates this album from average, Boy Kill Boy territory. And it’s the squalling guitar lines that define a song like Wake Up as much as the somewhat fey vocals – a trait which brings Editors to mind (the start of Handshake bears a distinct resemblance to Papillon, too).
But for all its strengths, it’s ultimately a rather dissatisfying listen. With only one true standout track, a handful of fillers, and little innovation or progress, it reeks of diminishing returns from start to finish. Perhaps in 2025, on some reunion tour, these songs will be greeted as old friends. But Two Door Cinema Club have the potential to be so much more than that. It’s time to take a few risks.