, the new record by the Canadian band Tokyo Police Club, begins promisingly with the songs "Favorite Food" and "Favorite Color." The first tune hints at an adventurous musical sensibility, with panned chunks of synth noise, a mournful melody and an eye for garish images and random detail. "Favorite Color" is a straight up swing for the charts, mildly ironic power pop of the kind Fountains of Wayne and Weezer used to pull of convincingly "Tell me what's your favorite color?/Tell me how's your younger brother?/ What grade is he in?" The simplicity of the questioning is deliberate, as seen through the eyes of a teen painfully trying to make conversation.
Tokyo Police Club have expanded their sound without changing it, pushing a bit further than their 2008 full-length debut, Elephant Shell
. The writing has tightened up, Josh Hooks has a strong sense of guitar orchestration, climaxes are frequently delayed, showing a sense of restraint and artistry. There really isn't an overtly bad song amongst the eleven tunes here, except for the obligatory reggae-influenced tune, "Gone," in which the band attempts to transform themselves momentarily into Sublime. (Note to all rock bands: You are not required to show rhythmic range by incorporating a reggae or ska song into your set.) Other than this, TPC show remarkable stylistic consistency. Normally this is a thing of value for bands. Vampire Weekend's Contra
, is a current example of a sophomore record that basically does the same thing as the first, but with some subtle musical changes and a grown man sense of confidence. It's fine to do more of the same, but a bit better, if the music that's being produced feels current and exciting. TPC need to keep an eye on their tendency to traffic in all-purpose, TV placement rock. The lyrics are literate, but sometimes lack focus, just clever enough to wish for better.
Tokyo Police Club are talented enough to move a step further. Songs like the album's closer, "Frankenstein," show a broader use of dynamics, "Bambi" has a great, stumbling guitar riff and in "Hands Reversed," singer Dave Monks lets his guard down a bit, allowing a touch of much needed melancholy to seep through his usually arch delivery. The band needs to trust in the disarming pop moments they've created and not airbrush them into obvious conclusions. -dan siegler
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MP3: "Breakneck Speed" (Champ)
Tokyo Police Club on Myspace