Two Door Cinema Club: Making Life a Little More Wonderful
When I started really listening to music in early high school, one of the first songs I listened to on my freshly purchased Spotify Premium plan was “What You Know” by Two Door Cinema Club. Though they’ve gone on and off of my radar over the years, their songs would always manage to pop back up on a Daily Mix every now and then, and as a result, I would have to give “Tourist History” another listen.
With their new single “Wonderful Life,” which dropped on June 16, Two Door Cinema Club signed the upcoming release of the band’s fifth album, “Keep on Smiling.” This announcement, paired with an upcoming tour with one of my favorite artists — Day Wave — led to my exploration of some of their older work, and definitely got me excited for “Keep on Smiling.” Of course, I stayed up until midnight on the release date to give it a listen. If Taylor Swift fans do it for her, then why shouldn’t I for one of my favorites?
“Messenger AD (intro)”: 8.5/10
Unlike their previous albums, “Keep on Smiling” includes a nice little intro that makes me go “oooo this is going to be good.” It feels like it’s the opening to something big — like an epic sci-fi film is about to commence. Despite its lack of lyrics, I think it delivers a very clear message of what is about to grace the ears for the next 40 minutes.
“Blue Light”: 8.9/10
“Blue Light” is one of those songs that I listen to the first time and go, “I’m not a huge fan, but this will definitely grow on me.” I was exactly right, as “Blue Light” has since grown to be one of my favorite songs on the album. It has vibes somewhere between techno and disco with a hint of rock and feels like it draws its vibes from “Gameshow” while still making its own feel. Overall, consider me a fan.
“Everybody’s Cool”: 8.7/10
This song delivers a laid back vibe that feels somewhere between “Gameshow” and “False Alarm.” While I do very much like the song, I prefer the front half of the song to the back half. The lyrics flow really well together, but the switch into the deeper then lighter feeling toward the end of the song feels a little out of place to me, which isn’t to say it’s bad. It’s probably something that will grow on me with time. I still very much enjoy the entire track.
“Lucky” was one of the two tracks released prior to the album, along with a snippet of “Everybody’s Cool.” “Lucky” is another one of those songs that grew on me over time. The buildup to the first chorus hits, which leads into a banger of a song. It helps that the overall song is very catchy. While I didn’t love the change in tone of “Everybody’s Cool,” I am a fan of the entirety of “Lucky.” If you’re going to give the album a listen, “Lucky” is one of the songs that feels like the face of the album.
“Little Piggy”: 7.7/10
“Little Piggy” gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, it has a good beat and vocals, but on the other hand, I feel like I’m not really processing the song. In some sense, it feels like a confusing song, but I like that about it. To me, there’s not really a definitive shape to this song, nor to the album itself. At the same time, it still feels like it has its own comfortable place among the other songs in the album. Unlike the other songs I wasn’t initially a huge fan of, I’m not sure “Little Piggy” will grow much on me. I still enjoy it, but not as much as the other songs on the album.
While I might be a sucker for songs that incorporate spoken lines from outside media into them, “Millionaire” doesn’t really scratch that section of my brain. I feel like it takes a little bit too long to establish itself, but once it does, the song is really good. It feels like a more traditional Two Door Cinema Club song when it gets going, but when it returns to the spoken bits, the song feels like it loses its identity again. Regardless, I still enjoyed “Millionaire.”
I don’t think “High” was the kind of song I was expecting in this album, but I am very thankful for it existing. The first time I listened to “High,” I immediately added it to some of my playlists. There’s something about the song that just clicked with me, and it’s definitely one of my favorites from the albums. It’s a song that feels like you’re reflecting on the high point of your life, but that it’s behind you and you’re wondering what went wrong, but everything about the song just feels right.
“Wonderful Life”: 9.4/10
It’s so hard for me to decide if “High” or “Wonderful Life” is my favorite song from the album. Both make Keep On Smiling for different reasons; “High” embodies keeping on smiling through the pain of life, but “Wonderful Life” says to keep on smiling because of everything good that is happening around you. “Wonderful Life” is a very catchy song that I think demonstrates the spirit of what Two Door Cinema Club really is: fun and not afraid to try something different. This song, to me, demonstrates the new flavor of Two Door Cinema club that wasn’t present in their previous albums.
“Feeling Strange”: 8.2/10
While I enjoy “Feeling Strange,” I don’t think there’s much that’s special about it. It feels fresh, but also something that late 2010s Two Door Cinema Club would have produced. Overall, it’s certainly an enjoyable song, but I don’t think it brings much new to the feel of “Keep on Smiling.”
“Won’t Do Nothing”: 8.3/10
“Won’t Do Nothing” is similar to “Feeling Strange” in that I enjoy it, but I also don’t feel like it’s anything special. I can’t help saying “lights out” when the lyric comes up, but I’m also not a huge fan of the synthetic voice filter that’s used in it. It’s a song I like, but I’m also far from loving it.
“Messenger HD”: 7.3/10
What “Messenger AD (intro)” does well, I think “Messenger HD” falls a little bit short on. It doesn’t feel like a proper conclusion to the album, but it’s still got a nice vibe to it. One note though, is that “Messenger HD” isn’t the conclusion of the album, which doesn’t feel right to me given “Messenger AD (intro)” is the opening. But I digress, it’s still a good little short song.
To finish out the album “Disappearer” delivers a solid performance. While I’m not exactly thrilled about the use of synthetic voice, I still like the song quite a bit. It has some really good rhythms, and it just hits. It’s a good finish to a great album.
Overall impression: 8.9/10
I really liked this album and it definitely met my expectations. I won’t call any particular song a weak point, but I would definitely say the back-to-back combination of “High” and “Wonderful Life” is its high point. I would highly recommend a listen through of Keep on Smiling, you won’t regret it.