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Tokyo Police Club

[Two and a half stars]
Elephant Shell
Saddle Creek Records

Samar Grewal Jun 10, 2008
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If you mix a stock punk band with the crafted melancholy of Arcade Fire in an exceptionally tight, preppy setting and impose on them the song-length ethic of JJ Cale on speed, you might be close to something that sounds like Tokyo Police Club. With the release of A Lesson in Crime in 2006, the foursome left many reeling from being subjected to seven giddy little pop-rock ditties in the space of about a quarter hour. (Imagine being late for that concert!) After following-up with the four-song ten-minute Smith EP and the ‘Your English Is Good’ single, the lads from small town Ontario are back with their first LP Elephant Shell, and its all over in a bit more than the combined ‘Shine On…’. Naturally, the numbers all seem to add up to the one question we must ask here: does the band, with this breath of a record, indeed have the kind of skills that prompt writers to pick phrases in the general area of ‘brevity is the so-on-so-forth’. And the answer, fairly often, is yes. With niftily-executed hooks, memorable melodic lines, hand-clapped accents and, more than anything else, propulsive drum work crammed into every possible corner, ES is designed to get you up from wherever you’re sitting. This is most clearly evident on songs like the opener ‘Centennial’, and on ‘Graves,’ ‘Juno,’ ‘Tessellate’ and the relatively placid ‘The Harrowing Adventures Of…’. The only snag, and a problem that ultimately takes away the possibility of greater variation from this diet disc, is that singer (and bassist) Dave Monks, despite all the sweetness in his voice, settles time and again into typically unremarkable and unobtrusive radio-friendly static that reflects little emotion and commands little attention.

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