So Two Door are back with the follow up from 2010′s Tourist History. Maybe it’s just me, or because they’ve moved on from “fighting off the spaceships” and costume parties, but Tourist History had something really explosive about it… Maybe that oomph is something more intricate and less obvious in Beacon. I’m not sure if I prepared myself for Two Door to banish that youthful, energised stage they found themselves in when writing Beacon’s predecessor, but who’s to say that a newfound sophistication is a bad thing?
Let’s just ignore any initial scepticism and focus on the opening track, ‘Next Year’ for a minute or two. It’s subtly romanticised, yet the repetitive, anthemic choruses we’ve become so attached to have indeed returned, with Alex sweetly promising that “I’ll be home for next year, darling”. To open the album with a track so reminiscent of the spontaneity of touring, with “I don’t know where I am going to rest my head tonight”, it seems that three years of touring their debut has really influenced their progression. ‘Handshake’ has been lurking around for a while now, sneaking in between the anthemic numbers in their live sets, but this studio version is refined and polished, much like most of the tracks on the record.
‘Wake Up’ is most definitely a favourite; Alex has completely perfected that comforting sigh of, “Until December’s come and gone”. There’s an influx of Kevin’s infectious, stunning bass, with unexpected quirky flourishes here and there – like that kooky, bubbling synth that trickles out at the end… Dare I say it’s kind of cool, really.
The tongue-twisting riddles of ‘Something Good Can Work’ are somewhat revived in the lyrics of ‘Someday’; the tempo rockets, the guitar riff becomes addictive and suddenly the drums really hit home – it’s an explosion of instrumentals – brilliant.
The experimental nature seems to come out as the songs become way more thoughtful and retrospective. ‘Sun’ begins slow and tranquilised (“Ocean blue, what have I done to you?”), but the story telling harmonies are disrupted by a jaunty riff with some saxy vibes thrown in there. If you caught Alex performing ‘Caliban’s Dream’ at the Olympic Ceremony, there’s a fitting hint of similarity in ‘The World Is Watching’; the vocals are submerged by airy female swells that are a delightful first in Two Door’s material.
There’s some real gems on this album. Sprinklings of thought-out intricacy and complicated undercurrents are dotted all the way through and are made to stay with us beyond when ‘Beacon’ fizzes out. The most distinguished change is that their sound has matured, structurally, and lyrically, with emotion. However, the element of perfection doesn’t hit you like it does in Tourist History, but it is there.
Beacon is out now on Kitsuné records.
By Libby Weeks
Dance Yrself Clean