Tokyo Police Club
Forcefield Album Review
Released March 25, 2014
Mom + Pop Records
Genre: Indie Rock, Alternative Rock
Do you remember that Simpsons episode called ‘Lisa’s First Word’? There’s a scene where Patty and Selma are forced to watch an infant Bart adorably sing, only to pause and confer with each other: “The older they get, they cuter they ain’t”. Although it’s a hilariously candid thing to say about a needy toddler, there’s a certain profundity, as with all Simpsons jokes, embedded within; and the relevance resonates true for Canadian Indie outfit Tokyo Police Club, and their regression into adulterated adolescence with their third full release, Forcefield; like a grown man in a onesie, it’s not cute and it’s kinda pitiful.
Before I puncture Tokyo Police Club with an onslaught of rhetoric groan, I have to give credit where credit is due. Back in 2008, Indie music was starting to roll the stone off the tomb, the sediment of blog-rock was being chipped away and a refreshing sound of clean-cut riffs and jaunty grooves was the order of the day, hence the universal adoption of TPC’s charmingly crooked debut, Elephant Shell.
Jump six years ahead to present day, and the trend has been flipped on it’s head. Immediacy has been exchanged for a dynamic-centric and more psychedelic sounds, because that’s what’s cool. Which doesn’t seem to matter to TPC. Front-man David Monks has outright stated that they’re not a ‘cool band’, and I agree. Although a distinction must be made, the framework for the not-cool-but-still-kinda-cool band was and always will be carved by Weezer. Their carefree dorkiness and riddled anxieties are what made the band so relatable, not to mention that their brand of power-pop punk (1994-1997 only) completely changed the landscape for Indie bands.
And it would appear as if TPC have gone back in time relative to their progression. A Benjamin Button style reversal has led them to this purgatory of still grasping to remain relevant while simultaneously paving a youthful naivety soundtracked by flaccid and quiver-lipped pop punk. Take the recent and brain-drilling power-pop single ‘Hot Tonight,’ where harsh pin prick guitar tones and sickly vocal melodies seep out of the speakers like a caustic syrup.
“Argentina (Parts I, II & III)” was the eye-catching prospect of this record, an eight minute track of three parts is always intriguing, especially for a band that rarely venture out of the under three minute long paddock. The micro-symphony of eclectically diverse key changes and quirky instrumental breakdowns that I had pictured was torn up before my eyes. What really floats this track and this album from drowning in banality is TPC’s tight and precise rhythm section. Quirky bass riffs and technical drum grooves are the dependable adhesive that keeps the basic ideas within Forcefield grounded since Monks appears adamant in catapulting half-baked ideas off the roof hoping they’ll land safe and unharmed.
Punctuated with some fond memories of TPC’s past like the surf-tron lead guitar on ‘Tunnel Vision’ or the clashing stabs on ‘Through the Wire’, there are surprising splashes of authenticity among a dank pond of glitchy guitar pop. A bold but bootless manoeuvre placing lacklustre and strung-out “Argentina” at the forefront of the record, taking up nearly a third of the total run time was a straight-up ignorant move. I get that the band are trying to channel a younger and foolish aesthetic to fit in with the whiny and malnourished maturity of the album, but did they go too far? Did they play the fools so well, that they became the fools making fool moves? All I’m saying is that you wouldn’t have caught Weezer making those mistakes… (though I still can’t explain why their music stopped being good after Pinkerton)
Falling back on satirical quips I’m going to close with final track ‘Feel the Effect’. Warm and reverberated vocals and swelling synth tones attempt to be the last sucker-punch to entice a reaction or make any impact upon the listener; as with this track and the record as a whole, it barely made a dent.
FAV TRACKS: TUNNEL VISION , THROUGH THE WIRE
LEAST FAV TRACKS: HOT TONIGHT, MISERABLE , GONNA BE READY