There were four long years of silence in the wake of Tokyo Police Club’s last album, Champ. That curiously long quietness gave vocalist and bassist Dave Monks plenty of time to collect his thoughts and synthesize something of truly higher quality than he had in the past — optimistically something that could top Champ. Alas, four years seems to have not been long enough.
Their latest album, Forcefield, epitomizes the current pop genre. Tokyo’s previous works have been, if nothing else, genuinely theirs and full of true craftsmanship. Forcefield is nothing like that. It is riddled with the occasional burps of creativity, but even when you hear them, they are only briefly rewarding. They feel like you’ve found an M&M in trail mix, only to realize that the rest of your handful is raisins. And that is just plain disappointing. Virtually the only song worth the $ 1.29 that you’ll pay for it on iTunes is “Argentina (Parts I, II, & III),” and that is because they began the album with what is effectively three great songs. “You were lying next to me / Wearing someone else’s clothes / Have I been asleep for long / In the infomercial glow.” Monks riddles his audience, and it shows the depth of this triumvirate of songs.
The other songs have a cheap, plastic feel that only gets worse as they overuse it and wear that sound thin. They feel like they’ve been produced by non-musicians, brushing the catchiness of pop stars such as Miley Cyrus and One Direction. Without their following though, that kind of cheapness cannot be justified, and therefore forces me to ask why this made up 75 percent of Forcefield. The worst offenders on the track list are “Miserable,” “Toy Guns,” and “Through the Wire,” all of which are plagued by the misuse of overly produced pop sound.
I don’t want to convey the message that this type of pop is inherently bad; it is perfectly acceptable for an artist to use this if it is their actual sound, even if it isn’t my taste. Its misuse is what makes it unacceptable. The way Tokyo use this sound is to generate instant gratification, relying on a flood of it to make a “good” song. This overwhelming misuse is what identifies it as produced pop, as non-musicians use this technique to make songs that top the Billboard lists. My thoughts stems from this: Tokyo Police Club have demonstrated that they have the potential to be inventive, yet Forcefield only showcases the current pop genre and nothing novel.
Written By Tom Johnson