Tokyo Police Club

Elephant Shell

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AllMusic Review by

If the Lesson in Crime EP introduced Tokyo Police Club as Canadian disciples of the Strokes, then Elephant Shell finds them shedding their vintage leather jackets in favor of several different getups. Tracks like "Tessellate" and "Listen to the Math" dress themselves up with the same sort of witty, professorial wordplay of a Decemberists album, and frontman David Monks casually tosses off a word like "australopithecine" with the ease of an anthropologist. Elsewhere, the group's steady drumming and angular, post-punk guitars point listeners toward the dancefloor, even if some of Monks' lyrics are better suited for a funeral dirge than an energetic, indie rock anthem. "Meet me where your mother lies/We'll dig graves on both her sides," he sings during "Graves," a song loaded with images of "blackened brains" and "fingernails beneath the dirt." Such a track would be disturbing if Monks' bandmates didn't churn themselves into an energetic froth, their chopped-up guitar riffs and syncopated snare hits sounding refreshingly bright against the lyrics. Tokyo Police Club haven't emphasized this side of their personality before, but they've also never had the chance to stretch their legs and inject some variety into their spazzy rock. Like Thunderbirds Are Now! on a weak dose of sedatives, they barrel through Elephant Shell with kinetic energy while allowing their hooks to breathe. Lesson in Crime focused on the hustle, the energy, the frantic race to pack as much punky abandon into two-and-a-half-minute songs as possible, but Elephant emphasizes mood above adrenaline, with shoegazing guitars and short-lived ballads peppering the track list. So even though these tunes remain brief and concise (only one song, "Your English Is Good," tops the three-minute mark), they're also varied, which makes Tokyo Police Club's official debut seem less like the work of hyper-caffeinated teens and more like the promise of a smart, evolving band. [Early copies of Elephant Shell were packaged with a limited-edition bonus CD featuring remixes of five tracks.]

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