Music Reviews

Tokyo Police Club Champ

(Mom & Pop Music) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

If music was solely about charm, Tokyo Police Club would have no trouble being everyone’s favorite band. Their a fresh-faced group of Canadian twenty-somethings who, thanks to a stint opening for Weezer and a knack for touring American universities, have developed quite a following of yuppie-ish quasi-hipsters and lit-major bound youngsters. They have all the enthusiasm (and all the good looks) for kids to get excited about – I saw them rock an afternoon festival set with the same amount of energy a touring-machine headliner would be contractually obliged to exert, and by the end, frontman Dave Monks pulled out a secluded digital camera to snap a shot of the modest, but massively appreciative crowd that had gathered. The band thrives on demolishing the hierarchy between fan and friend, and there is very little like the feeling of being adored by one of your idols.

However, musically speaking, Tokyo Police Club have always left a little to be desired. They rode the backs of a few brilliant tracks (Your English is Good, A Lesson in Crime) into a fairly boilerplate debut record in Elephant Shell. It wasn’t without its merits, but it made clear that the band had very little else up their sleeve than their thin brand of metropolitan indie rock. Simply speaking, it was a very forgettable, if inoffensive, first try. Luckily, Champ sees Tokyo Police Club with a firmer grip on their sound, their vision, and their conquest; and although not destroying expectations, it makes good on a lot of the promises their earliest work showed off.

Champ has more of a unifying thread in its first two songs than the previous Elephant Shell had in its entire trajectory. The smartly titled Favourite Food and Favourite Colour twofer hit the downhearted nostalgia note perfectly. “But it’s noon o’clock and you’re still asleep, and your coffee is cold, your coffee is icy, cause your knees are scratched and your eyes are black.” It rings of a very specific curse, when you’re too old for teens-on-the-loose shenanigans, but too young for real life, caught in between life itself. It’s nostalgia for the 21st century, and far more lyrically developed than the band’s earlier work.

Unfortunately a lot of the good things I have to say about Champ is reserved for the record’s tight vocabulary, the actual ‘music’ Tokyo Police Club are playing here is rather limited, encompassing the usual car-commercial indie that has pilfered through the indie scene over the past five years. The band continues to be not as good as the pop-rock titans like The New Pornographers or Phoenix they’ll inevitably be lumped in with – Tokyo Police Club simply haven’t been able to write original pop songs. It’s not that they’re bad, they’re just inessential, and will only impress people brand new to the scene. The 16-bit synth-strikes that texture the tracks would’ve probably sound interesting at the turn of the century, but now, in this dance-rock heavy world, it’s all remarkably passé.

But I digress, regardless of any negativity, Champ is a much more established album than anyone expected out of the Tokyo Police Club camp, and it’s lyrical fostering makes up for the musical commonplaceness. For a band that could’ve easily been forgotten, Champ makes a good case for Tokyo Police Club’s stock in the new decade.