Tokyo Police Club

    {grate 3.5} Three surefire rules for an instant hit band, brought to you
    by Tokyo Police Club: first, handclaps; second, gang background vocals; third,
    nonsensical (but cool-sounding) band name. These four Canadian youngsters carry
    those aesthetics to the LP arena with a caffeinated emo-Strokes burst on debut
    Elephant Shell, a more subdued singles collection than their previous work (all
    sixteen minutes of it).

    It all starts with perfect opener “Centennial,” a taut
    reminder that singer Dave Monks takes effective song arcs and rides them for
    every drop of indie chic they contain.

    Then we get “In A Cave,” an image-heavy tune about sci-fi
    time travel and Romance that best encompasses the band’s maturation into a
    restrained pop beast. These three-for-three ends with “Graves,”
    a punchy assault that blasts you with bite-sized hooks sheathed in synthetic oohs
    and insistent guitar.

    And from then on the Club starts to lose its footing. Monks
    decided to adopt an even more nasally geek-tinge to his vocal inflections this
    time around, and they further tarnish tween-girl friendly tracks “Juno” and
    “Tessellate.” In case anyone didn’t know already, the word tessellate roughly
    means “to form or arrange in a checkered or mosaic pattern”; when you add the
    phrase “broken hearts” to that, you’ve got yourself a heart-on-sleeve nerdgasm
    worth a wince or two.

    Besides the aforementioned tracks’ questionable lyrics and
    irritating delivery, the rest of the record sparkles with its huge percussion,
    Monks’ everything-is-a-chorus approach to songwriting and goofy keymaster
    Graham Wright’s tasteful choice of synth tones.

    None of the cuts reach the frantic bliss of “Be Good” or the
    pop-shock newness that “Nature of the Experiment” represented, but “Your
    English Is Good” and “Graves” come close. Still, I say bring back the Albert
    Hammond Jr. riffs, dry your eyes and speed up your shit for the next one; we
    don’t want another Voxtrot on our hands.

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