“Cigarettes in the Theatre” could have delivered more as the opening track of their debut album, Tourist History. The song rises out of smoky ambiguity before the strumming of a single guitar string starts. Immediately after, Two Door Cinema Club became as fidgety and infectious as we know them to be. But “Next Year” was the striking beginning I expected to hear, and introducing, Beacon, it’s a reflection of everything they did better on this second album.
You hit play and they hit you with the frenetic, cutting chords of Sam Halliday and Alex Trimble’s dueling guitar work. The currents of sound feel as if they’re angling up in convergence, toward the point of the pyramid, where the noise then retracts and a beacon of light is released as Alex Trimble’s falsetto bursts out, “I don’t know where I am going to rest my head tonight, so I won’t promise that I’ll speak to you.” Though urgently upbeat and assuringly Two Door Cinema Club right away, the songs are layered with delicate emotion and cut with melancholy. Accompanied by “Sleep Alone” and “Settle,” with a line that wishes, “When I get home I want to feel less alone,” Beacon is an album reflecting the loneliness of touring. Tireless synthesizing included, they’ve maintained the charming oddity that characterizes their sound, but it’s been made wise by the weathering of their travels.
With only “Someday” replicating precisely what we got with Tourist History, Beacon experiments with slower tempos and different styles. “Sun” coos like a jazz ballad while “The World is Watching (with Valentina)” ought to be a tropical limbo. But predictably, with every song you are at some point sentenced to dance. However, with Beacon, where the rhythm is excitable, it is also structured. Where the energy is jabbing, it is also guided. Produced by Jacknife Lee (U2, Bloc Party, The Hives), attention to detail is a defining quality for Beacon, though the transition from Tourist History to Beacon has been a seamless one.