But by 2010, the Wombats had become just another easy listening electro-pop band and Bloc Party had long been forgotten in the shadow of Kele's fist pumping dance/techno singles. Converse shoes and skinny jeans had been traded in for rabens and neon-print-everything, and ironically enough, indie became truly indie again because no one wanted to listen to it anymore.
So when Two Door Cinema Club released their debut Tourist History, I was so excited to hear some guitar in pop music again, the formulaic harmonies and repetitive guitar riffs on the album seemed entirely forgivable. With 10 tracks that catchy, who cared if the songs started to sound exactly the same after a while anyway?
Released earlier this month, Beacon is certainly a more mature offering than Tourist History. Lead singer Alex Trimble's lyrics tell the story of long-distance relationships on the road ("So when I say goodbye/You must do your best to try/And forgive me this weakness") and his vocals are appropriately wistful and nostalgic. 'Next Year' is the clear stand-out single of the album, with the distorted lead guitar solos and keyboard melody adding a little extra sparkle to the band's penchant for plucky guitar riffs and up-beat drum rhythms. Sam Halliday's back up vocals also add nice depth to the band's signature sing-a-long choruses.
But unlike the sharp pop formula applied to Tourist History, Beacon mostly sounds like a lesser variation of the same thing. Songs like 'Handshake' and 'Someday' are driven by the same recycled version of the high pitched electric guitar riff from Tourist History's 'Undercover Martyn' and 'What You Know'. And whilst a few tracks try to break from the Tourist History mold, with sparse arrangements and gradual instrumental climaxes, these arrangements aren't novel enough to grab the attention of the listener. They also aren't as immediately catchy as Tourist History either. For example, 'Sun' starts off promisingly with a slow tempo intro, gradually building up to a horn section playing the scratchy 80s-effect lead guitar riff in the chorus. Whilst this may make for more interesting listening, the grandeur of the horns seem wasted on such a simple riff.
Feel good tracks like 'Wake up' and 'Spring' more successfully break out of the band's stiff verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. The disjointed, strummed guitar riff in 'Spring' is nicely contrasted with Trimble's sweet vocal harmonies. The funky bass line in 'Wake up' inserts a refreshingly different rhythm into the track. 'Wake up' also develops the band's tired high pitched guitar riff into a coherent melody towards the end, complimented by familiar sounding, yet solid drum rhythms that feature on the whole album (this lack of inventiveness may be due to the band not having a permanent drummer).
Although Beacon isn't as exciting or as gratifying a listen as Tourist History, the album shows the band's attempts at developing a less formulaic, more complex sound. The band's ability to find a large audience still interested in indie rock (albeit a watered down version of the genre) suggests that guitar rock may still be alive and well...and at least for that reason Beacon definitely deserves a listen.