Sophomore album is less catchy; still entertaining
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 00:09
Lead singer Alex Trimble and his band mates’ hard work paid off in dividends and their debut album, “Tourist History” was a surprise success, earning them Ireland’s coveted Choice Music Prize for best Irish album of 2010. The unique blend of catchy choruses, post rock guitar flourishes in the likes of Bloc Party and danceable drumbeats found on “Tourist History” caught the ear of MTV, who awarded them Best New Band at the MTV Woodie Awards.
Since then the Irish band has taken the stage at numerous festivals such as Chicago’s Lollapalooza and they recently performed at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in London, just to name a few of their numerous successes. So its no surprise that their sophomore album “Beacon,” released on the French label Kitsune, is one that is fueled by the sense of feeling lost in new experiences and the loneliness that success brings to bands that are constantly on the road.
“Tourist History’s” upbeat manner followed the naïve psychosis of Trimble, who sang tales about nights full of affectionate endeavors, (“Cigarettes in the Theatre,”) the passion to make a young relationship bloom (“Something Good Can Work”) and other accounts of an adolescent heart living in Northern Ireland. There is a newfound dramatic flare that ignites the mood found on “Beacon;” it’s a somber soundtrack to the manic lifestyle of living from city to city. “I don’t know where I am going to rest my head tonight, so I won’t promise I won’t speak to you today” is the opening line of the album found on the addictive “Next Year”. The song echoes the sounds found on the rest of “Beacon,” disco drumbeats and guitar noodling reminiscent of “Tourist History,” but this time moody synths and minor chords build for a darker experience, often building into epic cadences.
“Spring” also tells the story of brief encounters with strangers who Trimble knows are temporary. The song employs one of the catchiest choruses found on the album, “If you I follow you tonight we’ll leave tomorrow, if it’s all forgotten love,” Trimble laments as huge drums and cinematic synths escalate his hopeless feelings of love. The album’s true highlights focus on upbeat and danceable rhythms. “Someday,” “The World is Watching” and “Wake Up” explode with funky bass riffs and earworm choruses.
“Sun” is the highlight of “Beacon,” which opens with a solemn progression of piano chords and blooms into an upbeat and almost jazzy tone. The horn section found in the later choruses of the song build an ominous yet joyous ode to feeling close to someone who is miles away. Songs like “Beacon” and the first single released, “Sleep Alone,” feel confused and never catch fire.
While “Beacon” is a more serious effort than “Tourist History,” the lyrics always feel sincere and act as the microcosm of the experience that Trimble and his band mates have faced. While this album isn’t as addictive or catchy as their debut album, it is no way a sophomore slump. “Tourist History” was the sound of summer where “Beacon” is the soundtrack of the loneliness of winter. My advice is to take a shot at “Beacon,” although it might be forgotten by the warmer months.