Tokyo Police Club – Champ

Tokyo-Police-Club-champ-cover-art

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When Canuck rockers Tokyo Police Club were still chestnuts on the branch, KEXP was heavily rotating Nature of the Experiment from the EP A Lesson in Crime. Sidenote: KEXP has introduced me to a lot of new bands. A lot. I recommend streaming John in the Morning from their website, or if you’re in Seattle just tune in to 90.3.

We’re back. The tunes on the EP were short, scratchy, jam-packed with guitar hooks and lightly dusted with new-wave synth. Their second EP was more of the same, but contained the surprisingly bleak and poignant piano ballad A Lesson in Crime. The scene was set for a breakout LP.

Almost a year later, the debut LP landed. Maybe it was a combination of high expectations and a bad day, but i was sourly disappointed. I spun it once, twice and then let it sit. I felt let down. Gone were the hooks. Gone were the sharp edges. There was no bounce. David Monks’ vocals have always sounded like he found out his girlfriend was struck by a stray comet seconds before stepping into the recording studio. Which is why the music needs to jump. The guitars need to be lively, the juxtaposition of sweet and sour scrambles your feelings and leaves you bizarrely pleased. But on Elephant Shell, you’re just left depressed. There is no life in the music to counteract the melancholy.

I had almost given up on them. But the first two EPs were so so good, I couldn’t just forget about them.

Champ is a different Tokyo Police Club. Monks still sings with a sutured heart stuck in his throat. But the snap is back. The hooks are electric and plentiful. The album opens with the bifurcated Favourite Food. The first half of the song is acoustic-snoozer but at the 2 minute mark, the drums pick up and the guitars start to zig and zag. Favourite Colour is next and brought me back to the indie-pop days of 1994 with its perfectly timed breaks and sing-along chorus.

The fuzzy synth of the single Breakneck Speed thrums alongside a ticking-clock lead guitar reminiscent of early Interpol. Monks walks a line precariously close to lifeless, but deftly placed sprigs of bouncy overdrive are the perfect complement to his somber vox.

The album reaches it’s crescendo with Not Sick. Monks really lets it go and his voice goes fuzzy with strain when he screams “Carolina, happy belated.” Julian Casablancas’ famous drone immediately came to mind. The comparison seemed more apt after several trips through the entire album.

This is the album I was expecting in 2008.

Tokyo Police Club will be in Chicago @ the Metro August 20.

tags: champ, Tokyo police club

  • http://andrewstamm.com Andrew

    Really?! I listened their first full-length all the time… but I agree, this new album is certainly the bee’s knees.

  • http://seankealey.net Noah Nickels

    yeah, i listened to it again before reviewing the new one and it was still a little too boring for me. I think it all has to do with expectations, i wanted it to be more awesome than it ever could have been! and with this one, i wasn’t expecting anything.

  • http://andrewstamm.com Andrew

    That’s funny, my expectations for this new album were pretty high (based both on how much I liked the last one and on how long it took for them to release the sophmore album… seems like it took a long time, right?) and I wasn’t let down at all. It’s only grown on me with each listen.

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