Tokyo Police Club
Forcefield


3.6
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
March 25th, 2014 | 24 replies | 5,453 views


Release Date: 03/25/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If it ain't broke

Never say that Tokyo Police Club has been a band to play with their listener’s expectations. For all shock that fans may feel when they fire up Forcefield with the sounds of three-part suite “Argentina,” a song that is nearly three times as long as anything in the band’s catalog, it’s a fleeting feeling. That “Argentina” is one song and not three doesn’t really mean anything – this is hardly the group’s foray into orchestral prog. The guitars still chime with major-key clarity; David Monks’ distinctive, grinning vocals singing things like “I don’t want to want you like I want you” unabashedly; the vibe is cheery and sad and surprisingly tender all at once, memories dipped in nostalgia and dripping with faded puppy love. There’s a depth to this song, though, in its subtle transitions between parts and a seamless addition of synthesizer to the tried-and-true four-piece rock act Tokyo Police Club have long since perfected. “If I was an asshole / thank you for keeping a smile on your face,” Monks sings, the necessary counterpoint to the band’s relentlessly sunny demeanor. It’s a duality that has always been present in Tokyo Police Club’s whirlwind of a catalog, but never as finely presented as it is on “Argentina.” The changes on Forcefield are understated, to be sure, but they also paint a sharper picture of the band. While the band’s evolution has been slow ever since they abused their amps on 2006’s raucous A Lesson in Crime, their songwriting has sharpened to an exceedingly fine point.

The idea behind Forcefield is an obvious one, and the songs reflect it. The four year delay between this and 2010’s Champ is almost unheard of for a band that has propelled itself forward seemingly on energy alone, yet here we are. What’s surprising is how immediate the group sounds. “Argentina” may feel like the requisite expulsion of all the pent up emotions four years can bring, but it segues into the cheesy “Hot Tonight,” a capital-s Single if there ever was one. Here, the meaning of Forcefield becomes clear. As Tokyo Police Club have aged, it’s obvious that the trends that have changed music since 2010 don’t interest them much. If anything, it’s hardened their resolve to being the best pop act they can be. “Hot Tonight” is pure radio bliss, a paean to summer excess and general irresponsibility played almost too straight. It’s a distillation of Forcefield’s core ethos, a more glitzed up version of the angular, punchy guitar work that defined 2008’s Elephant Shell and a commitment to hooks that is admirable in its tenacity. The difference is in Monks’ weary vocals and his lyrics, tinged with regret and discomfort more often than not. This is a band whose members are all approaching thirty, and for all the endearing playfulness on display here, there is a shadow looming.

Forcefield works because it never tries to overstep its carefully circumscribed bounds; even “Argentina” feels like less than half its runtime. The band can have it both ways, direct and flashy but also refreshingly unpretentious. In the hands of another band the fervor with which they hit those crunchy power chords and the easy fun of the arrangements would seem a tad cynical; here, it’s impossible not to sing along, and the sarcasm inherent in much of Monks’ lyrics and crooked smile is amiable, not so much smirking as laughing at it all (or you’ll cry, right?). Diminishing returns are largely avoided by the reckless way the album veers from haphazard, blistering garage rock (“Gonna Be Ready”) to sunny midtempo radio bait (“Toy Guns”) to jangly power-pop (“Through The Wire”). It’s a bit of a breathless trip that betrays Tokyo Police Club’s strict adherence to their own special comfort zone: if it makes you tap your foot, it’s in. Monks can claim he’s “Miserable” as much as he wants – the way the hooks sparkle and his voice bounces on top that guitar line sure sound like a band absolutely okay with continuing to do what works.

Is there a place for Tokyo Police Club in 2014? Forcefield stands proudly on its own, a meat-and-potatoes rock record that swings for the FM fences and gets by on Monks’ considerable personality and the band’s seemingly limitless energy. It is also an anachronism, defiantly insular by its own admission and cocking a middle finger at the concept of irrelevancy. The songs are good enough today; will they be good enough tomorrow? In this respect, Tokyo Police Club could not be more like its lead singer. Monks has always been the perpetual asshole, self-denigrating and flawed and always willing to discuss his foibles, if not change them. “But I got the tunnel vision, can’t see the light / I just want to make it through one more night, tonight,” he sings on “Tunnel Vision.” It’s a good metaphor for the kind of late-20s uncertainty Monks has mastered, but it’s not hard to draw a parallel to his band, either. It will be interesting to see where they go when the forcefield fails and morning finally arrives.




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user ratings (41)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2014



10306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

good stuff all around

Digging: Literature - Chorus

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2014



23800 Comments


their dreadful band name has made me avoid these guys forever but if it's got the rudy klapper seal of approval

well then

tommygun
March 25th 2014



24137 Comments


nice as always rudy might jam cos bloc party rec

Digging: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

taxidermist
March 25th 2014



7197 Comments


Rudy that avatar is still the fucking best.

WatchItExplode
March 25th 2014



3213 Comments


I really dig a few songs of Champ, I bet this would be right up my alley.

oodlesofnoodles
March 25th 2014



25 Comments


I've been waiting for this album forever, glad to see it's not garbage

Great review btw

silentstar
March 25th 2014



2242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Argentina is a wild track.

Klap, have you heard the new Bombay Bicycle Club? it's a bit in the same vein but more experimental/consistent/varied:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7ZSI4-MHWg

SpritzSpritz
March 26th 2014



527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^^^^ I think the reason this isn't hitting me at all is because the new BBC is so damn good. Argentina is great, but I really get a stale taste from the rest of the album.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2014



10306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

i gotta check out that BBC

Inveigh
March 26th 2014



24863 Comments


you should check that song silentstar linked too

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2014



10306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

yeah isn't that the new BBC haha

Inveigh
March 26th 2014



24863 Comments


i think you should urban dictionary "bbc"

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2014



10306 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

hahahaha stop

someguest
March 26th 2014



20393 Comments


why would he look up one of his favorite recreational tools

Digging: Your Old Droog - Your Old Droog

Inveigh
March 26th 2014



24863 Comments


gotta check out that bbc yo

silentstar
March 28th 2014



2242 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

can't get enough of the closer - love the chill vibe

"I got a friend with a mohawk, he is giving terrible advice to me"

scottpilgrim10
March 28th 2014



2876 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A nice listen for sure, but still a bit forgettable.

Digging: Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2014



7163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Intrigued; much like Aids, I never got beyond going o.O at the band name but I'm gonna try me some of this. Great writing as always, Rudy.

Tyrael
March 30th 2014



20797 Comments


Damn I had no idea these guys were gonna release something new this year

gotta check

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2014



7163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Feels like a more glam Vampire Weekend

=l?



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