For a band that has made a name for itself as having infectious festival-ready hooks and impeccable guitar instrumentals, Two Door Cinema Club makes sure to not utilize either strength in “False Alarm,” their fourth studio album.
The band has struggled to find its identity ever since the 2010 indie treasure, “Tourist History.” The album solidified Two Door Cinema Club as serious players in Britain and earned them fans all over the world. Followed by the slightly-worse but still very enjoyable “Beacon” in 2012 and then “Gameshow” in 2016, Two Door Cinema Club’s first album proved hard to follow, and their sound started to slip. Sadly, the Northern Ireland band continues that trend in “False Alarm.”
While “False Alarm” has some ugly ducklings, there are also a few great songs tucked in.
The album’s opening track, “Once,” puts the band’s identity struggle in the spotlight immediately. The instrumentals in “Once” feel like a reserved Passion Pit song, and the vocals are uninspired. With a dull percussion section under heavy effects, “Once” does not set a good tone for the album.
“Talk,” the band’s first single of the album, released in March 2019, gave fans a taste of what they were going to get, or so they thought. “Talk” is an outlier in “False Alarm,” taking a stab at a funky, club-ready track. It mostly works and is an enjoyable listen.
“Satisfaction Guaranteed” starts promising, with a Devo-sounding synth section that fits well with Alex Trimble’s vocals perfectly. Sadly, Two Door Cinema Club absolutely mauls the song with the chorus. Slow and clunky, the chorus in “Satisfaction Guaranteed” is a stain on an otherwise clean shirt.
Coming in at number four on the 47-minute album, “So Many People” keeps with the funky and swag-soaked vibes of “Talk.” The use of a short guitar riff repeated over the second pre-chorus section adds a third dimension to the song and transitions nicely into a down-tempo, atmospheric finish.
“Think” is the best song of the album. Between Trimble’s pitched-up voice and the subtle '80s-inspired synth chords in the background, “Think” is solid in every facet. Accented by a violent, distorted bass during the chorus, “Think” is the most well-rounded song on the album.
“Nice to See You” is a six-minute bore fest which resembles “Talk” in the worst way possible. But where “Nice to See You” surpasses “Talk” in dreadfulness is in the ill-advised Open Mike Eagle rap verse from the 3:59 mark to 4:41.
“Break” features a synth reminiscent of the synth used in Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time.” The song isn’t a complete assault to the ears, but doesn’t offer any substance either. A suitable filler track, “Break” doesn’t make or break the album’s sound.
In a complete reversal of “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” “Dirty Air” excels during the chorus and becomes unlistenable during the verses and pre-choruses. Trimble’s low-pitched voice in this song feels unnatural and throws the instrumentals off in terms of how cohesive the two are. The chorus is classic Two Door Cinema Club — insanely catchy and singable — driven by Sam Halliday’s ferocious guitar playing.
Excluding two single-edit versions at the end of the album’s track list, “Satellite” stands as the album’s second-to-last song. Another mediocre addition, “Satellite” draws on the same tired, fast-paced synth barrage that is featured in most every song on the album. At some point the synth’s need to work together instead of against one another.
The final song, “Already Gone,” is a decent but generic song, destined to be ultra-popular at festivals. With multiple breaks that can easily be used for crowd interaction and a powerful ascending chorus, “Already Gone” isn’t the worst song of the bunch, but it doesn’t feel authentic. Just as the album started with Two Door Cinema Club’s identity struggle, it ended with it as well.