Tokyo Police Club is back after a four-year hiatus from their last full-length release, Champ, back in 2010. It was the originality of the bands style and signature minimalism that made me a hardcore fan. The shortened writing style of songs like Bambi and Nature Of The Experiment gave listeners the feeling of a flash-bang, a single instant of energy felt long after detonation. Sharing the same hometown as the band, their innovation putting Newmarket on the map, their music has held a particular weight in my heart and place on my iPod playlist. As a suburban youth suffering from the ache of chronic boredom, the sounds of TPC helped to fill the void between the mall and the movie theatre. It is now, with a black veil and salt-stained cheeks, that I request a moment of silence for my fallen brothers.
Now clinging to the simple hook synth-pop cliche’s of yesteryear like a lock-jawed baby to its rubber nipple bottle cap, Forcefield, does little to justify the long absence from the studio room. The fourth studio album by the small town Ontario natives released in late March showcases a polished production style that effectively takes any bite whatsoever out of a Sprite and vodka sound, forcing listeners to sweat sugar with a sound direction more reminiscent of a wine cooler.
Beginning with Argentina (Parts 1, 2 and 3), the album ejaculates early with the band’s longest song writing effort ever, the first song taking up over a quarter of the total album’s run-time. The band, notoriously known for snippet style song writing that leaves fans asking for more, jam packs all their best melodies into one song. It’s like taking a bulky buffet and fitting it in between 2 slices of Wonder bread to create a sandwich so swelling in size that even cartoon character Scooby Doo couldn’t swallow it without choking.
With lyrics like:
“Oh what a girl
I wish I had another sister
I’d take her to the park
While you were at work”
It just goes to show that time is not an accurate reflection of maturity. Thematically the album doesn’t even leave the same neighbourhood as the crush-obsessed poetry of albums past. It’s as if eager for release, song writer David Monks just recycled pages from his Degrassi themed “feelings journal.” To be realistic, lyrics like:
“How many kinds of people do you think there really are for me?
Enough to fill a room
Enough to fill a mall”
Aren’t even likely to garner a magnet on an overly proud grandmother’s fridge. Continuing through the track list songs like “Toy Guns”, “Gonna Be Ready” and “Beaches”, the songs fail to resonate melodically, the flaccid hooks having the potential of piercing listeners in much the same way Nerf darts have the potential of piercing skin. Interest further wanes as the album comes to conclusion with the songs “Through The Wire” and “Feel The Effect.” Truthfully, the tame curtain call has me feeling about the same effect as when I take Baby Tylenol for a splitting migraine, the chalky sugar taste just accenting the pain. Overall, the album Forcefield traps in all the cliché’s of an over-saturated synth-pop genre to suffocate listeners with an atmosphere that smells like your younger sisters perfume. Out of 5 stars, I would give it 2 Jellybeans. With the instrumental complexity of the Fraggle Rock theme song and the lyrical- romantic value of teenage dry humping, Forcefield leaves old TPC fans like myself with only one hope; “Maybe it will grow on me?”