Let me help you out. Tokyo Police Club are a quartet hailing from the sunny shores of Ontario, Canada, whose trade is predominantly dance rock (think Phoenix, but more, well, Canadian). Their latest album, due for release March 25th, is their first full length record since 2010, and what a wait it’s been. Whether it has been worth the wait is another matter…
At a first listen, the word ‘maturity’ springs to mind time and time again. From vocals, to guitar, to synth and drums, everything about it is a bit more grown-up and a bit more complex in its sound. But I would hasten to add that Forcefield is anything but a grown-up record. It may be more matured, but it is not refined or sophisticated – more like a teenager than a fully fledged adult. Now, depending on what you want from an album, this may not be a bad thing. There are some real sparkly numbers on this album that are perfect for a lazy summer afternoon, and as long as you get past the first track or two, you are almost on a home straight.
Overall, the sound is akin to a fairground. There are some rollercoastery numbers that peak and dip and peak and dip in an almost sickly fashion, and then there are some more relaxed rides, whirling around like the teacups or a Ferris wheel. But the overall feel is the same – candyfloss, bright lights, high pitched laughter and youth. On almost every track there are some heavily produced and pleasant sounding riffs that are accompanied by popping candy vocals, which means the slower, slightly more melancholy tracks are the ones that really stand out. Once you get over ‘Argentina (Parts I, II, III)’ (yes, it is as self-indulgent as its title) you get gems of numbers like ‘Gonna Be Ready’, a track that is a bit grungier to begin with and signals a real change in style. The change of pace and tone is welcome amongst all the saccharine, and with a more a bit more melancholy and a bit more introversion, this track is a corker. The vocals are still sugary, but this mixture of sweetness and darkness works surprisingly well.
Another interesting track in the mix is ‘Miserable’, a spacey song with some eclectically blended synth acting as a background to the lyrics. What I also love about this track is the juxtaposition between the title and the content – if you are expecting a song about heartbreak and hardship, think again. It is so damned upbeat. To add to this, the things that the singer is ‘miserable’ about are frankly ludicrous. What person in their right mind doesn’t “wanna travel to the future” or “wanna live in the Bahamas”? This could be the very point they are making though, that no matter what superficial or material thing we desire, the lack of it should not be the be all and end all. Deep shit. Either that, or it could simply be a pretty little tune…
All in all, it is a nice record. At times it is a bit repetitive, and it might make you a bit sick, but if there still is a place for awkward white boys in glasses and hoodies singing about the problems of the ordinary man in music, then Tokyo Police Club’s latest offering fits in like a charm.
Tracks to skip: ‘Argentina (Parts I, II, III)’ and ‘Beaches’
Tracks to skip forward to: ‘Feel the Effect’ and ‘Tunnel Vission’