In their first musical statement since 2011, Canadian alt-rockers Tokyo Police Club have just released a studio album, Forcefield.” Having all but vanished from the zeitgeist of the indie music world, this – the band’s fourth studio album – is a highly anticipated release. For a group that has been absent for nearly four years, the challenge for Tokyo Police Club is to find a new relevant niche in today’s music scene.
After gaining a small but loyal following with their abrasive but endearing 2008 debut “Elephant Shell,” and really coming into their own in their sophomore attempt “Champ” in 2010, the self-inflicted hiatus of the would-be indie wonder has proven particularly damaging. For fans of their previous work, “Forcefield” will feel like an alien production – an album with no clear origin or purpose. Tokyo Police Club seem to have jettisoned their boyish charms in order to seamlessly fit into the prevailing contemporary indie-pop genre. Unfortunately, this meant leaving behind most of the band’s personality and allure.
“Champ,” the band’s second studio album, was full of personality and fun. The album drew listeners because of its lo-fi sonic aesthetic and fearless acceptance of the pop-punk genre. Songs like “Favourite Colour” and “Bambi” were weird, interesting and seemed to emanate directly from the four boys who were making the music. The sounds on both “Elephant Shell” and “Champ” were nostalgic – the songs were like the ones that your high school boyfriend’s band played, only better. After releasing “Champ,” Tokyo Police Club seemed poised to gain widespread recognition and explode onto the indie-punk scene with their slightly different, energetic musical style. However, after that album, the band stopped producing music – all but forcing fans to forget about their work.
“Forcefield” represents a clear departure from the band’s old image. Most bizarrely, lead singer David Monks has lost his signature twang. Known for his gruff voice and interesting pronunciation, a possible relic of his Canadian roots, Monks has, on “Forcefield,” assumed a much more accessible and generic sound. In fact, subtle changes seem to have happened to every member of Tokyo Police Club. While their first two albums were littered with heavily distorted riffs, glaring synth and powerful pounding percussion, their latest release seems docile and unambitious in comparison.
However, “Forcefield” is not a failure of an album. Indeed, many of the tracks are fun and easy listens. Songs like “Through the Wire” and “Feel the Effect” are perfectly suited for today’s sonic landscape