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Elephant Shell

Tokyo Police Club indubitably share similarities with their more commercially successful UK counterparts, Bloc Party.

Rating: 6 / 10

Lauren Murphy, 12 May 2008

Long-windedness has never been a trait associated with Tokyo Police Club. The Canadian quartet’s initial EP releases – 2006’s debut A Lesson In Crime (16:23) and last year’s Smith (10:17) – were notably succinct efforts. But they unquestionably laid out TPC’s mission statement: here was a band that shunned self-indulgence, in favour of sub-three-minute bursts of energy. In other words, quality over quantity.

It comes as no surprise, then, that their full-length debut – an album awash with verbose lyrics, warm angularity and melodic, jerky rhythms – clocks in at just under 28 minutes. Sounds like Bloc Party, you may think, and you’d be right: Tokyo Police Club indubitably share similarities with their more commercially successful UK counterparts. Yet there are also fleeting glimpses of the Ontario outfit’s predilection for more ornate compositions.

‘In A Cave’s dark, danceable bounce, for example, could be what Arcade Fire would have sounded like if they’d plumped for bristle instead of baroque; ‘Juno’’s jangle and gentle xylophone bong resonates beautifully, and the whirling lurch of ‘Your English Is Good’ calls in the crowd for the memorable refrain “Give us your vote/If you know what’s good for you!”.

The only problem with Elephant Shell is that on an album of perfectly good songs, there’s no one great song, and therein lies the perennial conundrum. Is it better to be consistently good, or occasionally incredible?

With Tokyo Police Club, only time will tell.

Key Track: ‘Your English Is Good’

Rating: 6 / 10
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