Formed way back in 2005, Tokyo Police Club have had a ton of success on the back of two very short EP’s — 2006’s Lesson In Crime and Smith, the following year. On the Ontario quartet’s first full-length Elephant Shell there are maybe a couple songs that aren’t as crisp as band’s best, but we have to say that the guys have successfully made the transition from the EP to LP format (granted, they blast through their 11 songs in 28 minutes). You’ve already heard “In A Cave” with its fuzz-up bass, handclaps, and group chants. Not a surprise. There are some, though.
OK, not really. But what they do, they do well. Actually, “Grave”‘s recurring keyboard part reminds us of M83’s “Don’t Save Us From The Flames,” and that’s kinda surprising. But no, TPC don’t deviate from what they do well, which is write tight post pop-punk songs with smart hooks and lyrics. And, it could just be the day, but somehow bassist/vocalist David Monks sounds more like Colin Meloy than he has previously, especially on “Tessellate” and “Listen To Math.” If you don’t buy it, check out the video for “Tessellate” and judge for yourself.
Thanks, mom. Maybe it’s just the way he says “tessellate.” Same sorta dystopian technology thing as the “Citizens Of Tomorrow” video, but with bigger words. Another song you can hear right now is “Juno.” It may spin a yarn that’s kinda dramatic and lovey, but it has nothing to do with the movie Juno, so don’t get angry Jim DeRogatis.
At this point, if you’ve clicked the proper links, you’ve heard four of the 11 songs, which means you’re just about ready to do a Premature Evaluation of your own. Interestingly, all the songs they’ve made available occur in the first part of the record. It goes “Centennial,” “In A Cave,” “Graves,” “Juno,” and “Tessellate.” We’d say this is because the album’s front-loaded, but it isn’t. Not entirely, anyway.
One of our less favorite songs “Sixties Remake” comes right after “Tessellate” — it has a killer guitar part, but otherwise leaves us kinda unmoved. Then there’s the nautically-minded, music box and string-lined “The Harrowing Adventures Of…,” which might be too emo-ballad for some. True, every band needs a moment of breath catching, but no reason to bring music boxes into the picture (we kid, music box fans). Thankfully, it picks back up with “Nursery, Academy” — a mid-tempo, Oasis-redolent (yes) swooner — and the throaty, spunkier hardware tapping rave-up, “Your English Is Good.” From there it’s smooth, sugary sailing.
Tokyo Police Club aren’t smashing templates or changing lives, but this stuff is catchy (as hell), easily digestible fun. Like, dude, you can listen to this in less time than it takes to absorb a rerun. They also seem likable, not smug, which helps. For instance, take a whiff of their bathroom blog. Yes, Newmarket, Ontario should be proud, and not just for the bathroom writing: On the whole, Elephant Shell is a solid, engaging full-length debut.