Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield


Take a time machine back ten years. Tokyo Police Club’s Forcefield would have fit right in. Pop music fiends would stick the lead single, “Hot Tonight,” on their mix CDs, right between the Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah” and The Strokes’ “12:51.” It’s like we’ve traveled to 2004, we’re still using mp3 CD players and some of the cool kids even have iPods.

So, at first listen, this album sounds pretty unoriginal. You’ll want to cast it off as an average set of songs with a few clever lyrics and a handful of horrible ones (“Drinking in the park/staring at the stars like a satellite dish/I had a good time/and I’m ready to die” is particularly cringeworthy.)

But then, something miraculous happens. A spell comes over the brain, and all of the sudden, these songs are the catchiest, most joyful few minutes of jagged guitar-driven pop mastery you’ve heard all year. A couple more listens in, you’ve memorized all the lyrics and your brain is trained to sing along, loudly.

There’s variety, too. “Tunnel Vision” begins with dark, gurgling riffs that sound like something crooked Trent Reznor might have maneuvered. But as soon as David Monks’ vocals kick in, it turns into a spree of melodic goodness that just happens to weave in a slightly eerie undertone. “Argentina, Parts I, II, III” is nearly nine minutes of fun, the closest this Ontario foursome has ever come to a magnum opus.

The band closes Forcefield with “Feel the Effect,” a mellow, beautiful piece of simplicity. Regret and reflection ripple throughout, a reminder that as straightforward and easy as these songs seem, they’re full of heart. They’re also timeless, irresistible, and a testament to simplicity.

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