Let’s face it – musical progress is inevitable. At least when you want to survive and carry on as an artist without getting yourself and your fans bored of the same old recipe. Or better said – that should be the case in a perfect world. But quite often such a progress feels forced and even more often the fans are shouting ‘Sell Out’ and ‘Get back to your roots’. It’s a lose-lose-situation if you look at it in a negative way. But instead of thinking to much about whom to please or not sometimes you just got to play and see. Canadian indie rockers TOKYO POLICE CLUB are doing so. Their third longplayer Forcefield arrives after an almost four year long break. But they haven’t lost their lightness, that much is for sure.
Ever since the band hit the blogosphere somewhere around 2007 they entertained us with joyful and easy going indie rock in its purest forms. Great songs, youthful spirit, the adolescent promise of endless summer days and nights and freedom. Quite easy to fall for it, probably because the protagonists were just twenty when their great debut Elephant Shell was released. Now they entered the second half of their twenties and Forcefield gives the right answer to the question how this fact influences the sound of such a band.
Well, of course, the sound of TOKYO POLICE CLUB had to change on Forcefield. The sophomore album Champ from 2010 was trying a bit too hard to copy the debut. Forcefield mixes the youthful energy of the band’s ‘four-guys-playing-in-a-room’ spirit with a more settled sound. The epic three-parted and eight minute long monster Argentina opens the record. Clearly new territory for the Canadians but they dealed with it in a quite satisfying way. They transport the epic architecture of the track in the most likely way. Right after that the lead single Hot Tonight sees the group back with old habits. ‘I burn the house down and I leave it behind / I didn’t need the money but the money was nice’ – it’s one of these lovely and easy-going indie-rock tunes only TOKYO POLICE CLUB are able to unleash in that form.
You already recognize the stronger keyboard elements in the music of the band. Unlike a lot of other bands at such a point in their career the addition of synthesizers doesn’t feel forced but rather like a logical consequence. It’s added here and there, giving a track like Through The Wire more sweetness. And it helps shaping Miserable even better into what it’s been right from the beginning – an instant radio hit.
From the melancholy vibes of Beaches to some progressive elements in Tunnel Vision – TOKYO POLICE CLUB understood how to discreetly add new aspects to their sound. Because after all – you can’t be a garage rocking teenager throughout your entire life. ‘I made a lot of bad decisions / I feel the effect’ sings frontman Dave Monks in the closing track of the only 9-song strong album. Time for reflection, it seems. It might be too early to claim that TOKYO POLICE CLUB have grown up. They moved forward in a very satisfying and honest way. And that’s a win-win situation, in the end.
TOKYO POLICE CLUB end their four-year-long hiatus with a strong comeback. ‘Forcefield’ combines old playfulness with more focussed new perspectives.
NBHAP Rating: 4/5