“Forcefield”: Fun, For Now
Jimmy Kemper | Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Tokyo Police Club smashed into the Canadian indie alternative post punk scene in 2006 with “A Lesson in Crime,” a brief but excellent 16 minutes and 23 seconds of tight, harmonious indie rock that was incredibly fun and better put-together than albums from bands decades old.
Since this breakout EP, the rockers have continued down their powerful track, with 2008’s awesome debut full-length “Elephant Shell” and 2010’s above-average “Champ.”
“Forcefield,” released Tuesday, is bursting with a different sort of energy. In the four years since “Champ,” many trends have come and gone in the music scene. Most notably, there has been a large shift toward an embracement of electronic sound, synthesizers and other quirky sounds. Tokyo Police Club, however, has stayed the course with this album, producing a noticeably more mature sound while retaining the rock elements that made them special.
The album opens up with the excellent “Argentina I, II, III,” a song suite just over eight-and-a-half minutes long with three interlocking parts that shows off everything the band has to offer, from lighthearted, bouncy pop riffs to slower, melodic fallouts. It’s also the first song the band has ever done that is more than four minutes long, and on its own is almost 30 percent of the whole album. On its own, this track is an incredibly special piece that shows off everything great about Tokyo Police Club — from the wonderful lyrics such as “If I was a lighthouse / I would look all over the place / If I was an ––– / Thank you for keeping a smile on your face,” to the rocking Weezer-esque riffs and lead singer David Monks’ rarefied vocals. More importantly, the concept and daring of such a varied and unique song shows how far Tokyo Police Club has come in such a short time.
The problem with such an explosive, exciting opening song, however, is that in the context of the album as a whole, from here there is nowhere to go but down. As entertaining as everything else is, the band struggles to recapture the diversity and frenzied energy of such a masterpiece. “Miserable,” for instance, is a playful, energetic ditty that contrasts with the gloomy title, though most of the song feels like wasted space as a prep for the chorus. A song really should not seem this way, especially when it only hovers around the three minute mark.
Maybe I’m just judging everything relative to “Argentina I, II, III” though. There are still some solid tracks on this album. For instance, the lead single “Hot Tonight” is a charming summer anthem that only a band like Tokyo Police Club could get away with. If some corporate squeaky-clean boy band threw this song at you, you would hate it and that would totally be fine.
“Argentina I, II, III” set up “Forcefield” to be an amazing breakthrough album for Tokyo Police Club that would thrust them deep into the limelight, but it turned out to be an exception rather than a new rule for the group. While this is somewhat disappointing, “Forcefield” is still a fun album. As more and more indie bands “revolutionize” the music scene with some shoddy synthesized beats, Tokyo Police Club has stayed true to the rock basis that made them special, which is a breath of fresh air for 2014. The question still remains, however, if there is still a place for indie rock bands like Tokyo Police Club down the road with the recent trend toward electric noise. Truthfully, I don’t know the answer to this. “Forcefield” is fun right now, but anything could happen that changes the way we view music, especially with the continual rise of bands through the Internet.
However, I do know that “Forcefield” is overall a genuinely good album that fans of Tokyo Police Club should definitely buy if only for “Argentina I, II, III.”. Even if you are not a fan, I definitely recommend streaming the album at some point — even if simply for the sake of fun.