Two Door Cinema Club have always been a band known for their originality. I remember hearing “Cigarettes In The Theatre” for the first time and thinking, “WOW! This is something really special!” Yet, their newest offspring, Gameshow, comes off like Saint Motel and Daft Punk had a child that grew up to be exceptionally boring. The album does little to showcase their prior penchant for soaring, enticing guitar melodies and catchy synth hooks, replacing them with a more standard techno vibe.
Two Door’s debut album, Tourist History, was a definitive album in my love affair with music, but Gameshow snuffs out that flame under bass-heavy beats and frankly unoriginal melodies in context of what can be expected from Two Door’s music. The music itself isn’t horrendous, but its lack of characteristic flair causes the album to fall flat from the band’s past electricity.
A fairly blatant detriment to the album is its length. The deluxe edition is over an hour long, with the inclusion of two remixes and a live recording, and a majority of the tracks feel like they overstay their welcome. Lengthy portions of songs seemed like they were written with the intent of forcing concertgoers to dance at a performance, and not to enjoy on their lonesome with a recording. If anything, the duration created confusion during my first listen, and then just pure boredom and frustration on my subsequent attempts to enjoy it.
“I’m a present danger to my health,” sings Alex Trimble on the opening notes of “Good Morning,” in true summation of the album. He sings of contradictions that are perfectly analogous to my experience with this album: conflicted feelings of confusion and desire to thoroughly enjoy my listen. Yet, the track only calls to mind Two Door’s past glory; it’s indicative of their previous sound while coming across as outdated in today’s indie music scene.
The album burns slowly, and few songs are able to truly hold attention or emotional investment for longer than a minute, which makes the inclusion and placement of the last two tracks even more confounding. “Gasoline” and “Sucker” close out the album, one of the most artistically befuddling choices I’ve heard in music. Both are strange and slow, leaving literally nothing but a bad taste in the listener’s mouth. It really causes the album to lack a reasonable sense of closure.
However, Two Door doesn’t totally fail on every track. Title track “Gameshow” blurs the line between indie and rock, providing a much needed incidence of vocal and instrumental variation. Trimble desparately shouts, “Just give me something, anything to live by / my blood is pumping so fast I forgot why I try.” It feels like a cathartic release among the relative normativity of the rest of the album. Another solid track is “Je Viens De La.” It’s similar to the classic Two Door tone, and brings back the much needed fire that characterizes their most successful creations. Its chorus is shrill and captivating, and the track isn’t long enough to make me want to hit the skip button.
Gameshow, despite its sparing highlights, feels like a letdown. Individually, the tracks aren’t terrible, but as a collective album, it induces a confusing, underwhelming listen. Gone are the days of the tight pop tracks on Tourist History, along with the incredible songwriting on “Changing of the Seasons,” one of the best indie tracks from this decade. Two Door set their bar too high for their third album to be a true success.