These indie rockers from Newmarket, Ontario have had some time to craft their indie-punk sound and style since their first full-length album, Elephant Shell, was released in 2008. It’s for this reason that it comes as a surprise to hear that on latest release Forcefield, Tokyo Police Club go lighter on the crunchy riffs and punchy pop verses that characterized Champ (2010). Forcefield has a clean and chorus-focused sound that puts emphasis on Graham Wright’s keyboard playing and Josh Hook’s driving, punk-inspired guitar.
On Forcefield, Tokyo Police Club has given their music a pop-oriented feel that tends to play it safe. Engineered by Doug Boehm, who has worked with Miley Cyrus and Fall Out Boy, songs like “Hot Tonight” and “Miserable” work with a steady bass line that builds into bright choruses that don’t take chances musically or lyrically, but provide an entertaining tune with simple yet memorable lyrics.
Though this release feels a lot like an attempt to appeal to a wider pop audience, Tokyo Police Club’s musicianship and production quality are evident. Songs like “Tunnel Vision” and “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” showcase smooth instrumentation and production that allows for a crisp and defined sound.
Overall, Tokyo Police Club delivered an entertaining album that strays from the sound created by the band on their previous releases. With high production value, catchy lyrics, and some stellar moments on the keyboard, Forcefield marks a departure from more grungy pop-punk roots towards a sound engineered to be in the Top 40, and subsequently, a more polished pop sound that isn’t all that exciting.