Album Review: Tokyo Police Club—”Forcefield”

By Ayla Shiblaq

Since their 2011 release, Champ, Tokyo Police Club has continued to make fun, upbeat music. This upbeat theme takes on a totally new form in Forcefield, where TPC begins its steady evolution from being an indie rock group to an indie pop group.

In an earlier interview with Exclaim!, TPC describe their replication of the “rock riff” style from early 2000s bands. Graham Wright elaborates by saying, “Remember when Weezer put out ‘Hash Pipe,’ or the Strokes put out ‘Juicebox,’ and everyone was like, ‘That’s weird, what happened there?’ Because they would do those ‘rock riffs,’ and people were freaked out.” Throughout the album, their intention is apparent – especially in the opener of the album, “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)”.

“Argentina (Parts I, II, III),” unlike their typical three-minute songs, is a whopping nine minutes long, accounting for one third of the album. However, those nine minutes are an engaging look into the discovery of new love and misunderstanding. Very much resembling a song you would want to hear at a high school dance, this song has an odd nostalgic charm that begs for a listen and not for a quick dismissal to its very pop-esque vibe. It’s adorable, it’s clever, and it’s a pleasant separation from their past releases encompassing the influences of the album with the new TPC sound.

Forcefield album art

Forcefield album art

Unfortunately, the rest of the album becomes underwhelming; though no song on the album is necessarily bad, not many songs stick out even after a couple of listens. However, “Toy Guns” acts as a perfect model of the pop style the band was going for with repetitive lines and a heavy concentration on the bridge and chorus. The instrumental contains cleverly placed keyboard riffs and basic accompaniment. “Feel the Effect” is the understated curtain call of the album, capping the high-energy pace with a retrospective. This song stands out with its distorted “rock riff” as a note to their past experimental style in their 2006 EP, A Lesson in Crime.

This is the kind of album you’ll listen to your friends on the way to the beach. Fun, accessible, and cheerful, Forcefield caters to TPC’s intention of not releasing a typical “pretentious indie-rock album,” rather releasing one that all can enjoy. For those who are used to TPC’s sound, this album may come as a disappointment. The “pop” style of this album may become off-putting and, at times, annoying for those not fans of the style. For listeners who are new to TPC, this album may just become the soundtrack to your summer.

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