No Flaws to be Found in ‘Forcefield’ | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

No Flaws to be Found in ‘Forcefield’

The Canadian indie rockers of Tokyo Police Club return with a full-length record that’s retro-inspired, yet anything but a retread of old ideas.

The Canadian indie rockers of Tokyo Police Club return with a full-length record that’s retro-inspired, yet anything but a retread of old ideas.

From the start, I'll admit a bias this time. I've adored the hard-to-pin-down work of Tokyo Police Club of Ontario, Canada, since purchasing the first releases, "A Lesson in Crime" and "Smith," in immediate succession during high school. At the same time, I'm not beyond acknowledging faults. I don't don rose-colored glasses every time I enjoy something. It's like the movies that you grew up on—you still love them, but you're fully aware of glaring flaws. However, the insane truth of Tokyo Police Club's newest full-length album, "Forcefield," is that it's incredibly difficult to pinpoint any missteps.

Prior to "Forcefield," which hit stores March 25, Tokyo Police Club hadn't recorded new music in almost four years, with the exception of the band's cover album "10x10x10," which was literally recorded in only 10 days. If the quality in songwriting and sound engineering is any indication, though, "Forcefield" has been in the works for some time. Opting for nine songs instead of the obligatory 10, Tokyo Police Club's catchy and '80s-esque album leaves you wanting more in the best way possible.

Many tracks lessen the rock edge of previous albums, but, to my surprise, that works in their favor. Some might even draw lines to artists like The Smiths, Tears for Fears or The Cure, given the mixture of light Brit-punk guitars and atmospheric keys. Keyboardist Graham Wright offers plenty of rich backing synth, but he also takes full advantage of the stylistic sway, crafting some incredibly catchy moments in songs like "Through the Wire" and the eight-minute pop opus "Argentina (Parts I, II, III)," which amazingly never wears out its welcome despite its long runtime.

Of course, airy synthesizer is certainly nothing new in the music scene. Heavy reverb and swelling keys are par for the course right now, even in popular music, but Tokyo Police Club provides a facelift for that rapidly aging tactic by melding it with multiple styles at once.

For an easily perceptible example, listen to "Gonna Be Ready." The song's shuffling drums and chaotic, jittery guitars dissipate during the bridge and verses to allow room for the synth and bass to breathe. Likewise, the ode to long-distance dalliance "Through the Wire" employs a disarming acoustic introduction and spacious, organ-like keyboard with equal efficacy throughout. The more ethereal sound palette utilized here acts as a pleasant flourish to the band's signature writing style rather than a core component.

Every song on the album is worthy of note, but as always, it has clear standouts. The radio-friendly single "Hot Tonight" is such an easy listen that I'd feel comfortable wagering that most people would walk away singing along after a single stream. "Miserable" shares that instantly agreeable quality, completely betraying its somewhat melancholic message with a toe-tapping beat and a multiplicity of fun melodies.

Lastly, while unexpected shifts in tempo and rhythm often make for a hard sell in pop music, the pulsing "Toy Guns" succeeds in fusing an updated edition of the "beat-clap-beat-beat-clap" rhythm that "We Will Rock You" popularized with a constantly building, driving verse with a feeling of satisfaction and arrival.

While I do consider myself a fan, and it's easy to write off the opinions of people who come out of the gate at full-sprint, so to speak, "Forcefield" truly is one of the year's best musical releases so far and warrants a fair listen. Moreover, it's a terrific jumping-on point for those new to Tokyo Police Club, an up-and-coming voice in the indie-music world and a band that's received the seal of approval from many major voices in the artistic community, from Canada's Juno Awards to MTV to The New York Times to ... well, Taco Bell isn't necessarily artistic, but you get the idea.

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