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Tokyo Police Club: Elephant Shell

Tokyo Police Club: Elephant Shell

Label:Saddle Creek
Release Date:2008

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 5/14/2008

"Running out of space, so let me sum this up for you," Tokyo Police Club singer David Monks offers three-quarters of the way through the first song on his band's first "album." That word is in quotes because Elephant Shell lasts all of 28:06; "Centennial," the lead-off cut just quoted, goes on for a mere one minute, 54 seconds. Say, guys, what's the hurry? A cynical guess is that Monks is in such a rush because it's been a good while--a year and a half--since the Toronto quartet first caught wide attention with A Lesson in Crime, an EP four songs and 12 minutes shorter than Elephant Shell. But put on the new disc and it doesn't take long to punt cynicism away: Tokyo Police Club is damn good at what it does, which is to write and play swift, enthused, instantly ingratiating rock, the kind that makes a lot of other bands sound even more too-ponderous-for-their-own-good than usual.

Monks has one of those classic nasal-indie-guy voices, similar to Ben Gibbard's and Colin Meloy's; indeed, songs such as "Centennial," "In a Cave," and "Nursery, Academy" are like Death Cab for Cutie with more muscle and stride. But just as often they're reminiscent of turn-of-the-'80s British pop punk--the title of "Your English Is Good" is particularly cheeky in this respect, even as the song itself offers the killer aphorism, "Injustice is my middle name." As a single released last year, "Your English Is Good" sounded slight, inessential; surrounded by songs that sharpen each other's edges and bounce their thickets of tune around, it shines.

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