Album Review: Tokyo Police Club – ‘Forcefield’

Jun 03, 2014



The Ontario natives have stuck to their guns with this new album. Released through Mom + Pop records,Forcefield is a trippy, bouncy jaunt through pop wonderland. In personification, if I may: if their 2006 album A Lesson in Crime is like your energetic little sister approaching her 16th birthday, considerForcefield a mixed-bag group of young festival goers; cheery, Millennials, but as frayed as an old Pendleton blanket.
 
To side with Pitchfork’s review of the album: “this a pop album, produced like pop and structured to grant instant gratification.” It’s a fair statement, as editor Ian Cohen rewarded Forcefield a 6.4/10.
 
Cohen basically gives props to the band for choosing their own path (TCP is unapologetic about playing pop), he also refuses to let them get away with it, and he’s got a point.
 
TCP doesn’t seem interested in maturing their sound; they’re getting older, and so is their audience. The once charming and melodic lo-fi tunes from A Lesson in Crime suited the high school crowd for its time; back when rock-pop was still a thing rather than the pure pop it slowly became.
 
In comparison, Vampire Weekend moved on from preppy, polo shirt-wearing pop with great success: their 2013 effort Modern Vampires in the City earned top spots for best album of the year from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and earned a Grammy.
 
In Canada, we don’t like to bully our own kind, so it needs to be said: Tokyo Police Club is more than capable of putting together great songs. They needn’t be hurried to change, but a helpful push in the right direction can help avoid a career labeled ‘that indie band from Ontario with the cute songs and the one or two great albums I loved in high school.’
 
Consider the first track: “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” is a three-part song, segueing from little ditty to the next. “Argentina (Part I)” begins as an adorable confession to ‘the girlfriend’; “Oh girl I wish you had another sister / for me / I take her to the park while you were at work/ how many kinds of people do you think there really are? / for me? / enough to fill a room, enough to fill mall?” A sudden change in tempo takes place at 4:41—it’s slow, soft, and only lasts for a minute. We change once again into something a little more comfortable at 5:50, as we ride the wave to the end of the song, which runs eight and a half minutes —a considerable epic for a pop-rock band of any stature.
 


Tokyo Police Club ­– “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)”


So sweet. May there forever be plenty of swooning girls wishing they had younger sisters for lead singer David Monks to take to a park.
 
Upon hearing“Hot Tonight” on CBC Radio 3 for the first time, Shazam told me it was Tokyo Police Club. I should’ve known; it’s so Tokyo Police Club. It was both a surprise and not much of a surprise, my first thought being “surprise, they’re back, and it’s obvious.”
 
Expect to hearHot Tonight on patios and on full rotation at your next house party. It’s bound to happen.
 
TCP got fans to produce a video for “Hot Tonight”in one of the best examples of fan-produced videothat I’ve ever I’ve seen.
 


Tokyo Police Club – “Hot Tonight (Lyric Video)”


TCP released an official music video for the song much later, but it wasn’t as much fun.
 


Tokyo Police Club – “Hot Tonight (Official Video)”


Their sixth track “Toy Guns” shifts from time to time, almost enough to sound like three different songs in one. much like “Argentina (Part I, II, III),” it’s another attempt at painting a picture of nostalgic adolescence. It’s terribly catchy before it hits the chorus with “are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’ of?”
 
The chorus is confusing and maybe it’s meant to be metaphorical. Trying to literally picture kids in a neighbourhood with shotguns and problems seems a little out of place amidst the rest of the album. It’s got a few “wa-oo-oo-oos” for the sake of swing (or is it filler?). 
 


Tokyo Police Club – “Toy Guns”


 Tokyo Police Club has an interesting ability to switch direction in every song. Just when something sounds promising, it’s replaced with something merely palatable. It makes for a jumbled album, sprinkled with a few moments of breakthrough. Hopefully it finds a place with fans that embrace polish over lo-fi.
 
– Leyland Bradley 
 
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Email me at leyland.bradley@gmail.com or @LeylandMarie. 

About the Author

Brandon Wallis

Brandon is the Director of Marketing, Communications and Visitor Experience and for the National Music Centre and Editor-in-Chief of Amplify.

The National Music Centre Mailing List

Subscribe to receive news, updates and special promotions.

Top