Guest Writer: Olivia Harrington
When Tokyo Police Club burst out onto the scene in 2005 their songs oozed adolescent angst and sex in the way only teenage boys could. On their first EP A Lesson In Crime tracks had little build-up coupled with self-conscious insecurity, marked by fast paced, jarring motions and a hint of false bravado. It was, nevertheless, a perfectly climaxing EP that left listeners begging for more.
Five years later, Tokyo Police Club’s newest foray, the 11-track sophomore LP Champ, shows signs of a maturity that begins to recover from the awkward phase of their first LP, Elephant Shell. While their earlier sounds marketed off the short attention span of modern culture, Champ has an assuredness that allows lead singer Dave Monks to take his time, lingering in the absolute absurdity and beauty of youth. One of the best songs on the album, ‘Favourite Food’ begins like a ballad of youth lost, wandering amongst a melodious disarray of electronic sounds. The vocals are soft, but halfway through TPC can’t resist bringing in the heavier instrumentals and upbeat tempo that made them famous. Tracks like ‘Bambi’ reveal a dichotomy TPC often explore. The lyrics juxtapose the childlike wonder of kites and castles against a slurred, cynical apology for coming home drunk the night before. Champ reads like a modern day bedtime story where each tale awakens you to some forgotten memory, holding you in the farthest thing from sleep. TPC transports listeners back to the nights they were tucked into bed or, more likely, tangled amongst another’s limbs in the backseat of the car.
If there is one complaint to be made on the album is that their longing for something past has stifled their ability to create something genuinely new. Monks’ romanticism of the past creates fuzzy tableaus, but that same blurriness carries on throughout their album. As Champ continues, songs begin to risk the predictability of heavy guitar rifts, highlighted vocals and snapshots of childhood attics covered in dust. Tokyo Police Club must be careful to save themselves from the fate of senile grandparents, constantly reminiscing about ‘back in the day’ to the point where you no longer wish to visit. In order to overcome the seeming curse of the mid-2000s indie band (The afflicted: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cold War Kids and Bloc Party amongst others), TPC must continue to construct upon where Champ succeeds. They must emphasize their lyrical prowess, but explore different build and rifts, catapulting them from simply a catchy commercial band, to an indispensable voice of a generation. For these 20-somethings, they must consider how long and in what way they can continue manufacturing memories and reminiscing on teenage Americana. What Tokyo Police Club has is their age and the freedom it creates for them to form an identity and take unexpected leaps. Maybe it is time for some real rebellion, the kind to which their songs often allude. Perhaps they just may need to ask themselves, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”