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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.
More on Tokyo Police Club here: tokyopoliceclub.com