Tokyo Police Club Tokyo Police ClubChamp
These twenty-somethings were clever, and took advantage of the emergence of the MySpace generation to surprise us with an EP that was a real honest-to-goodness spit ball –dense and slippery, the kind that’s hard to clean off– in the faces of Julian Casablancas and the Strokes. “A Lesson in Crime” arrived four years ago, and since then, the Canadian Tokyo Police Club has slipped in with the fine print into the majority of the indie-style festivals that overrun half the world. Those furious pearls lasting little more than two minutes that they presented us with when not even God knew who they were, riding the fence between disenchanted emo and post-punk agitation, have caught up with them. It’s sad to say so, but they reached their peak before ever launching a proper album. After this small-scale media massage, they tried to repeat the benevolent reception that the press gave their first LP “Elephant Shell”. But the element of surprise had already vanished, like the credibility of the hundreds of other bands who find they have to slip out through the back door with their heads down when the public decides not to laugh at their jokes. If not, tell that to Bloc Party or others who keep trying to arm wrestle with fate, like Maxïmo Park.
Tokyo Police Club is back in action with “Champ”and the most interesting thing about it all, at least for someone with a perverse interest in musical cadavers such as myself, is to see whether these youngsters are going to give us reasons to continue to defend them publicly. They partly succeed. Superficially, the parameters of the songs that we find on “Champ” are not too far off from those postulated in “Elephant Shell”. In any case, using a sharp knife, we can manage to separate out some surprises. For example, the duration of the songs. Until now, they left us feeling cheated many times, cutting off the rapture of troublemaking. But with “Favourite Food”, the longest song that they have composed so far, they have solved this problem (evoking an idyllic youthful summer along the way). Herein lies another of the remarkable things about the group: David Monks, the group’s frontman and bassist, writes lyrics that are as sincere as the typical conversation that any of us could have with our friends in a bar. Take “Breakneck Speed”, which lays several questions on the table about whether the teen phase is really a kick or not. This riff of controlled abrasion opens a new door and shows an incipient maturity for the group, also in “End of a Spark” and “Hands Reserved.” But one thing is true: if they want to move ahead on that ground, they will still have to perfect the effectiveness of their half-times. Nobody ever said it would be easy.
Another point in their favour and a pleasant surprise is the inclusion of synthesisers in “Bambi” (one of the catchiest songs of the lot), “Not Sick” and the closer, “Frankestein” . Their known identifying features remain unchanged – “Wait Up (Boots of Danger)”– and the guitar of Josh Hook, at times, continues to shine with all of its bad vibes in “Big Difference”, a song that would delight Los Campesinos! But beyond these references, Tokyo Police Club continues to carry the dead weight of not standing out from their direct competitors, as was predicted at the time. Bands like this one come a dime a dozen, so the fact that they have put out an album that sounds good—in part given its duration—doesn’t mean that we can expect much more of them for their next release. Sergio del Amo