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.

Elephant Shell is out 4/22 on Saddle Creek, in the UK on 5/5 via Memphis Industries.

Comments (29)
  1. The album’s available in the iTunes store already. It’s not a mistake on iTunes part, the band actually mentioned that it would be released early during their recent show at the Independent in SF.

  2. MF McNutt  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2008 0

    I’m not sure how this qualifies as a “premature evaluation” considering this album has been available on iTunes since March 25th.

  3. Chris  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2008 0

    “but we have to say that the guys have successfully made the transition from the EP to LP format”

    “Not a surprise. There are some, though.
    OK, not really. But what they do, they do well.”

    These statements really contradict themselves. They did absolutely nothing different, and didn’t evolve in any way. The album is very redundant, and I was quite disappointed all round. I was thrilled when I heard A Lesson in Crime due to the amount of musical maturity for their age, but hoped it would progress with the next release. The fact is, there was no progression at all. The whole album sounds like 11 B-sides of the original 4 track mishap. Upon hearing ALC I thought they would either progress wonderfully, or just have 4 really solid songs they sat on for a long time. I think that may have been the case.

    • Michael  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

      The two statements above pretty much sum up my thoughts on the albums as well. Above all, the album kind of sounds like the same song throughout it all, and the only big highlight was a song already available on a previous EP.

  4. Bel  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2008 0

    “Tokyo Police Club aren’t smashing templates or changing lives” but the album is “engaging”? What’s engaging about lacking progression or non-evolution? I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I was just really disappointed when I felt they had a lot of potential on the EP.

    • jayfarer  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

      Because sometimes things are acceptable the way they are?

    • candy_eater  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

      TPC was never doing anything revolutionary or evolutionary, right? Can’t simple pop music be engaging? What sort of potential did you hear? To write more harmless pop songs?

  5. JPC  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

    I agree: redundant is the perfect description. Too bad – I was really looking forward to this.

    And one sticking point: calling them an “Ontario” band is just lazy. Ontario is a province. It’s bigger than Texas. Would you call a band from Los Angeles simply a band from California? Again: lazy writing.

  6. lazy reader  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

    @ JPC
    speaking of lazy, did you read to the last sentence? “Newmarket, Ontario should be proud…” did you want them to give a detailed account of the city’s center square, population, and main industries, too?

  7. lazy reader  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

    @ JPC
    speaking of lazy, did you read to the last sentence? “Newmarket, Ontario should be proud…” did you want them to give a detailed account of the city’s center square, population, and main industries, too?

  8. Don’t most bands have EPs before LPs? So this is technically their first album? So how would they evolve from non-existence? I think that just because they dragged out their opening by waiting to release a proper LP, people (ie everyone above) are going to be disappointed because it’s the same. But how is it the same as nothing?

  9. Franticc  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

    I’m definitely still enjoying a Lesson in Crime immensely more than the new stuff, but I’m also not going to be a nay sayer just yet. I’m gonna let this one grow on me for a bit, and hopefully I’ll end up enjoying it more eventually.

  10. TPC can write some fun pop songs. Sometimes I don’t think you need more than that.

  11. Brian  |   Posted on Apr 5th, 2008 0

    This is a superb album. They are not high art, they don’t play 11 minute songs with 7 minute instrumental intros, but they make extremely catchy, fun, upbeat, energetic songs that will stay in your head for weeks after you hear them. This album is much more Polished than their Ep’s, much less screaming and clapping, but the hooks are still there. They get in, rock out, and get out. Something it seems like Death Cab for Cutie needs to remember with their WAY too long single that could have easily been a 3 minute song (And a good 3 minute song, I am a DCFC fan). Best Tracks on here are the ones that people are not talking about as much. My top 3 would be Centennial, Nursery Academy, & The Bakersvilles.

  12. Haven’t been here in a while. Since when did everyone get so critical… I think we can all agree TPC isn’t re-inventing the wheel, but it is a pretty solid album. I mean, its a little more subdued than anything they’ve done before, but I think its a great listen from start to finish…

  13. msigur  |   Posted on Apr 6th, 2008 0

    this album goes down smoother than a fifth shot of liquor at a college party.
    this is good and bad.
    initially, it’s great, like that fifth shot, i’m pretty happy, giving into the catchy vibes. after a couple listens, i need something else – either food or another drink. in the long run, tpc’s new disc doesn’t offer that shot of life, but it’s a catchy disc none the less and it’s got some damn good hooks, but i don’t see it lasting that long on my playlists.
    time will tell, but i have a feeling that time will only mutter with this one.

  14. msigur  |   Posted on Apr 6th, 2008 0

    this album goes down smoother than a fifth shot of liquor at a college party.
    this is good and bad.
    initially, it’s great, like that fifth shot, i’m pretty happy, giving into the catchy vibes. after a couple listens, i need something else – either food or another drink. in the long run, tpc’s new disc doesn’t offer that shot of life, but it’s a catchy disc none the less and it’s got some damn good hooks, but i don’t see it lasting that long on my playlists.
    time will tell, but i have a feeling that time will only mutter with this one.

  15. peabody  |   Posted on Apr 6th, 2008 0

    nice “real emotional trash” rip-off album cover

  16. peabody  |   Posted on Apr 6th, 2008 0

    nice “real emotional trash” rip-off album cover

  17. hushamush  |   Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 0

    @peabody: Your comment shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how records are made in general. Considering the release dates for these two albums… it was not possible for either to rip-off the other. Both of them are cool. I feel sorry for you.

  18. Hushamush  |   Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 0

    @peabody: Your comment shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how records are made in general. Considering the release dates for these two albums… it was not possible for either to rip-off the other. Both of them are cool. I feel sorry for you.

  19. Wil  |   Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 0

    I dig the tracks i heard a lot. Super fun live.

  20. Sean Jean  |   Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 0

    I like it, but I don’t think there is any question A Lesson in Crime was better. I still think it’s good though.

  21. John Sundaram  |   Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 0

    The album is a solid listen. Much more pop then their last album, and this is a good thing. I bought it twice!

  22. John Sundaram  |   Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 0

    The album is a solid listen. Much more pop then their last album, and this is a good thing. I bought it twice!

  23. There’s only one song over 3 minutes? Quality over quantity I guess. Suits my short attention span to…

    —–> http://goodbyestereo.blogspot.com/

  24. It’s a good album. Very expected though.

  25. Web Sheriff  |   Posted on Apr 10th, 2008 0

    WEB SHERIFF
    Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
    Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
    Fax 44-(0)208-323 8080
    websheriff@websheriff.com
    http://www.websheriff.com

    Hi Stereogum,

    On behalf of Saddle Creek and Memphis Industries, many thanks for plugging “Elephant Shell” (US street date 22nd April) … .. and thanks, also, on behalf of the labels and Tokyo Police Club for not posting any pirate links although, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, both ?In A Cave? and now also ?Juno? are available for fans and bloggers to post / host / share etc … .. check-out http://tokyopoliceclub.com/ and http://www.myspace.com/tokyopoliceclub for details and the latest info on “Elephant Shell” and the band’s 2008 tour.

    Regards,

    WEB SHERIFF

  26. polyworm  |   Posted on Apr 13th, 2008 0

    guess what happens when you run a search for god on this site?

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