Tokyo Police Club

Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield

Have you ever felt like an album compelled you to buy it? That strange, out of body experience that lures you towards the record in hopes that you’ll take a chance on listening to it? Funny enough, that seemed to happen to me in the case of Tokyo Police Club and their third studio album, Forcefield. I was browsing the record bins at my local shop when I saw behind the counter a white-covered LP that simply said “Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield” in a faded-stylized stamp. Having heard of the band through my friend at work, there was something in the world that told me I needed to have that record. What I wasn’t expecting when I first let the needle hit the vinyl was for Tokyo Police Club to quickly become one of my favorite bands in the world. Forcefield takes your breath away, from the early opus of “Argentina” to the cautious closing of “Feel The Effect,” the 9-song LP hits all the intended targets and still left room for future growth on subsequent releases. I would later backtrack through the band’s catalog of their debut EP, A Lesson In Crime, their first full-length of Elephant Shell, and the brilliance found on their breakthrough record, Champ. Forcefield still holds its own to this day, albeit ten years down the road from its release, and I’m just as drawn in to its magic.

Coming off the success of Champ, Tokyo Police Club could’ve gone in a multitude of directions given the newfound spotlight on their band. “We struggled with finding our spot as a band and owning what we were,” lead singer/bass player Dave Monks said. “Everyone expected us to come out with another record like (2010’s) Champ, but we didn’t feel comfortable going on the same road we were on. We wanted to go somewhere else; an upward move, not lateral, so we starting writing and looking around for something new.” By exploring the depths of their sound and by letting their creativity take hold, Tokyo Police Club cemented themselves as one of the most interesting indie rock bands in the scene.

After sifting through the brilliant opener of “Argentina (Parts I, II, and III),” it seems as if anything would be possible from this talented band. The first track has everything you’d want in a career-spanning song that shifts directions at the drop of a hat, and thrills from start to finish. Lead single “Hot Tonight” is a more straight-forward pop-rock song that has a great hook, beat, and overall vibe to it that can instantly turn your day around for the better. The band continued to tinker with this pop-sheen sound on “Miserable,” and “Gonna Be Ready” sounded as close to the vibe they went for on Champ.

The bass-heavy “Beaches” is a perfect summer jam that finds the beauty in Monks’ lyrics, as the second verse opens with, “Happens all the time / Two sides of an endless story / This story is mine, (turn the page) / People write their names across beaches.” The simplistic storytelling comes across really well, and it takes a certain type of songwriter to find a clever way to express full emotions through lyrical wordplay. Monks makes it all look easy, and his bandmates rally around his every lyric.

”Toy Guns” features a pop-heavy refrain of, “When every other kid on the block has a shotgun / I’ve never known the difference between the toys and the real ones / When every other kid on the block has a problem / I’m just one I’m just one,” as the band continue to explore the depths of their creativity, all paired with the dual-guitar attack from Josh Hook and Graham Wright. Drummer Greg Alsop is also an underrated player on Forcefield, as he picks his spots strategically for fills or restraint, depending on the need in the song.

Other late tracks like “Tunnel Vision” and the summery ballad of “Through The Wire” paint a picture of a band getting ready for the care-free days of spring turning to summer. By the time you reach the sweeping closer of “Feel The Effect,” Tokyo Police Club have made their mark on your soul to ensure that they will be memorable for the rest of your days on this earth. With the recent news of Tokyo Police Club deciding to hang up their instruments and do one last victory lap tour, I can’t help but wonder what may have happened to my music listening patterns if I hadn’t picked up that limited edition vinyl of Forcefield on that fated day in my local record store. My life may have turned out the same, sure, but the music that filled my ears from that point on certainly gave me a better outlook. And for that, I’ll forever be thankful for discovering Tokyo Police Club.