Tokyo Police Club – [Album]

Tuesday, 06 May 2008

With two EPs under their belt, it was only a matter of time before the ever-touring Canadian foursome Tokyo Police Club officially issued a full-length debut—even if “full-length” means 28 minutes. On Elephant Shell the indie rockers punctuate short upbeat songs with bells, handclaps and densely irreverent lyrics.

Led by the distinctive voice of frontman and bassist Dave Monks, whose vocal style most similarly lends itself to that of The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, Tokyo Police Club crafts short tunes whose sweetness seem to belie their complexity. On “Juno,” Monks sings “You and your soapy eyes called it off so late at night / but your hand’s in your heart cause your head’s always right” over a simple set of chords struck on the keyboard.

The longest track on the album (at 3:12 minutes) is the riotous feel-good anthem “Your English Is Good,” which finds the kids shouting, “Give us your vote! / If you know what’s good for you.” Originally released as a single, independent of either EP, the track finds a necessary home on the LP, even if one wishes the song would trade places with lightweight guitar-supported “Centennial” as the album’s kick-off track.

While Elephant Shell offers enthusiastic shouts on “Sixties Remake” and nice tinkly bells on “The Harrowing Adventures Of…,” the album’s standout track is the restless rock number “In A Cave,” whose delicate synthesizer works wondrously against Monk’s brash vocals. If you can imagine putting the indie edge of an act like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the electronic sensibilities of the Postal Service in a blender, the outcome might be similar to Tokyo Police Club.

Formed in 2005, Tokyo Police Club emerged as one of the hardest working bands at SXSW in 2007 (only beaten by the Black Lips, who formally earned the title from the New York Times). Originally catching the ear of critics with little more than a fabulous two-minute song—“Nature of the Experiment” from their A Lesson In Crime EP—TPC quickly hit the festival circuit, and then hit the road, touring with acts like Dappled Cities and Cold War Kids. For the Canadian then-teens who celebrated signing to Saddle Creek by ordering a pizza (at least if their publicity photos are any indication), it was a real whirlwind.

Now, hardly more than a year later, TPC is a formidable indie rock outfit, solidified with this debut release—even if hipsters decry it for being too short. Jammed with ultra-catchy beats, enthusiastic “hey!”s and genuinely non-generic lyrics, we can only hope TPC’s Elephant Shell is a mere taste of what is to come.


Elephant Shell is out now on Saddle Creek.

More on Tokyo Police Club here:


"In A Cave" from Elephant Shell – [mp3]

"Juno" from Elephant Shell – [mp3]

Related articles:

Tokyo Police Club w/ Dappled Cities – [Live at The Troubadour]

Tokyo Police Club – Smith EP [Album Review]


Tokyo Police Club – [Album]

Friday, 19 October 2007

A few months ago, a friend asked me what new music he should check out and when I mentioned Tokyo Police Club to him, he said, “No seriously, what should I be listening to?”

One amazing baseline later and TPC has my friend and the indie music world buzzing about their sound. Of course, these boys from Newmarket, Ontario, went ahead and sprinkled in some other talent-laden chords throughout last year’s debut, A Lesson In Crime. Now, the Canadian outfit is letting more of their good music flow with the release of their Smith EP next month, which includes four new tracks and three music videos for songs off of their first release.

The “Cheer It On” music video displays a modelmaker’s foray into apocalyptical mayhem, when he puts little plastic versions of the TPC members into his scaled down world. Carefully crafted tracking shots and quick cuts go along great with the pace of the song as the band’s presence causes many catastrophes in the small model town. With the “Citizens of Tomorrow” video, an Orwellian vision of the future is envisioned, and debris crashes into the members of the band while they play their instruments. I was delighted with the head scratching nonsense of the “Nature of the Experiment” video, where the band dances around ornaments and decorations made of cellophane and tin foil.

With the self-admission track “Box,” the Smith EP starts off right where TPC left off on their first release. They take a two-minute dip into romance with “Cut Cut Paste” and belt out their piano-laced version of a power ballad with “A Lesson In Crime.” Smith finishes with an upbeat remix of “Be Good.” In four short tracks, TPC scares me with their talent. Their lyrics run a lot deeper than one might expect for a band that writes such short songs. Lead singer Dave Monks’ voice delivers heartfelt emotion with each word, as his band creates a sound that is, simply, like no one else. If you can find something better do to in the ten minutes it takes to listen to this latest TPC release, well then, I’m just not envious of you.

You can buy this ep for like $2.67 from

For more on Tokyo Police Club, click here:

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