Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
Record Label: Mom + Pop Records
Release Date: March 25, 2014
It's a little strange to talk about Tokyo Police Club's progression, since the band hasn't given us anything original since 2010 (the 10x10x10 covers project notwithstanding). To say that Forcefield is different or more poppy or less frenetic is to imply that this band is the same group of people who released Champ. They aren't, but they are. They are older and presumably wiser and less influenced by what is and isn't popular music these days. Yet on "Gonna Be Ready," singer David Monks drops over a half-time bridge, "Living in the mind of girls / Who would never say shit to me now," and that's when we realize that this band is completely different but still stuck in their ethos of perpetual youth. Growing up is easier said than done. We perceive more, but escape less.
When the band announced the album with 8+ minute journey "Argentina (Parts I, II, III)," our minds went spinning as to what this could mean. But really, "Argentina" is just a few Elephant Shell-type tracks crammed together in the smoothest of fashions. Electronics take center stage with lyrics like, "I don't want to want you like I want you," and, "If I was an asshole / Thank you for keeping / A smile on your face." Early on, we find ourselves staring straight into the slow burn of human evolution. "Argentina" is a song with varying moods and settings and pieces, just like our walk through life. It's probably overly emotional for me to say that the guitar solo near the 6-minute mark signals a coming of age story, but that's what "Argentina" is. It tracks this band's path from party jam band into thinking man's electro-rock group.
Because really, everything you hear on Forcefield sounds thoughtful. But not in that overly academic, weirdly preachy way. A song called "Toy Guns" mixes easy metaphors with difficult growth: "When every other kid on the block has a shotgun / I've never known the difference between the toys and the real ones...I am just another jagged gentleman / We're both made of the same stuff." It's all poppy and, as a dear friend said, like they overdosed on 60s pop while overdosing on 2000s drugs. Tokyo Police Club have created something that doesn't feel like it was made to stand out or mix in. Forcefield, like its name implies, is personal and dependent on listeners pulling meaning out of lyrics that are so clearly meant to be vague.
Closer "Feel The Effect," while probably the album's most interesting track with static-drenched guitar solos and fist-pumping Passion Pit-esque electronics, gives us bits of a story that at first seem strange. But it also contains bits of everyday-ness like, "I've got a friend with a mohawk / He's given terrible advice to me / He is full of quick quips / Has my future on my lips / At least he's working on it / Working on it / Working for me." Whether you know someone with that hairstyle or not, you know the person who can't help but tell you what's right. It's so easy to give everyone else advice, and so hard to take it. But Forcefield plays like an album rich with self-reflection. It's incredibly insular and sure of itself, but it's also smartly innovative. Rock music in 2014 means almost nothing, and it's nice to hear a band like Tokyo Police Club going full speed into creating their own definition. And perhaps what it means to be a successful rock band in this day and age is to be less concerned about how you sound, and spend more time concentrating on what you say.
Recommended If You Like: Tapes 'n Tapes, Two Door Cinema Club, Ruby Coast