It’s been almost four years since Tokyo Police Club’s last long player – the moderately well received Champ from 2010 – and by all accounts Forcefield has proven to be anything but an easy next step, the album finally arriving after some serious writer’s block issues.
After it became clear that things were not so rosy in the creative department for the Canadians the band scattered, with members relocating to different parts of America in search of inspiration and time away from the group collective. Seemingly revitalised, the power-pop quartet returned to studio recording in 2013 and subsequently shared an eight minute epic towards the end of the year, Argentina (Pt I, II & III), and it’s this impressive piece that gloriously opens Forcefield.
Green Day’s American Idiot boasted two superb ‘movements’ rather than songs, in the shape of Jesus Of Suburbia and Homecoming, and Argentina is crafted from a similar (albeit poppier) mould. Beginning with a familiar high energy beat, the track twists and turns through minimal, subtle organ backed lulls to full blown guitaring sections, with emphasis placed on solid melodies at every turn. The track continuously evolves and transforms into various guises but remains hugely entertaining throughout – it has enough ideas within it for a band like Guided By Voices to have created four different songs from the same track.
Beaches first materialised in 2011 and that follows: a foot-tapping, synth backed effort that bears resemblance to lad rock outfit Hard-Fi with its catchy chorus asking “Are you gone or are you just out of sight?” Single Hot Tonight represents another of the best moments: swirling keyboards back verses peppered with touches of electric guitar alongside a bouncy drumbeat before the chorus lifts off in even catchier style than Beaches, with a poppy guitar riff adding to the infectiousness.
The racing Miserable represents another highlight, rapid drumming injects urgency into the song before a catchy chorus again pops up whilst Tunnel Vision has ‘American teen-comedy theme tune’ plastered all over its opening moments, the chorus then slowing down to tell the message “when every other kid has a problem, I’m just one,” alongside an infectious keyboard riff.
Occasionally though, the line between catchiness and annoyance is thin; Feel The Effect is reasonable but overly repetitive usage of “I feel the effect” leads to the conclusion that this is a poppy riff that’s been stretched into a full song. Likewise, Through The Wire becomes irritating, built around a grating, repeated chorus of “through the wire to your door” amidst shimmering guitars and a simple keyboard ditty; potentially dangerous to your health if you let this one get stuck in your head.
Lad rock returns for the intro to Gonna Be Ready; a thunderous burst of guitars and drums lead to a singular guitar line and softer verses, with the power pop re-emerging for a decent chorus containing pummeling drums in overdrive. Contrastingly, album closer Tunnel Vision opens to a heavily plucked bass that’s taken a back seat for the rest of the album, leading to more high energy guitaring that gets perilously close to a faster version of Status Quo’s Sweet Caroline before synths swoop in to save the day.
The bouncy, poppy, high octane vibe the band have developed is in full flow and similarities with a band the Club have supported – Weezer – are obvious. Whilst the creative juices may have faltered at first, the hiatus obviously proved worthwhile as they are flowing throughout Forcefield. It’s a goldmine of catchy power pop, with the odd misstep, but anyone claiming to find little here in the way of feel good factor is likely to be deaf, ignorant or just sitting within their own sound-proof forcefield.