Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Tokyo Police Club

Elephant Shell (2008)

Saddle Creek

Given the room of a full-length recording, Tokyo Police Club still manage to write both economical and friendly indie pop/rock jams. In the space of two to three minutes apiece, TPC are hardly harmful, but it's not like they provide straight Indie 101.3 templates on Elephant Shell.

Those radio-friendly vibes are certainly there; with the first lines of opener "Centennial," vocalist/bassist Dave Monks sings in a quaint voice that's immediately reminiscent of a more lively Ben Gibbard -- a parallel that critics haven't hesitated to drawn. But Tokyo Police Club aren't really subscribing to that same sort of brooding, narrative atmosphere; there isn't really enough time. Skittering drums and riffs bouncing between staccato strikes and quick overlaps for pneumatic spheres are methodical, and each collision ends seemingly before it even began. Besides, Monks' Gibbard-y clone-esque moment isn't really repeated through the rest of the record, anyway.

For every batch of quickly fired shots come a standout moment on Elephant Shell -- that aforementioned opener "Centennial," at the album's shortest and featuring its practical motto ("Running out of space, so let me sum this up for you"), for one. There's also the dynamic "Tessellate," where a steady drum thwack intersperses with group handclaps and arthritis-inducing piano key taps. "Nursery, Academy" becomes as sporadically lush as you can expect the band to get, yet digs in a hook deep enough to make it all work, while "Your English Is Good" rounds up would-be politicians to good-naturedly shout "Oh, give us your vote! If you know what's good for you!"

Even as it tends to sound somewhat typical, Elephant Shell certainly doesn't operate like a typical indie rock album, or a typical Saddle Creek release for that matter. But chalk it up to the kids of Tokyo Police Club, who often desire nothing less than the space of three minutes to convey their bizarrely fun thoughts and feelings wrapped in a shell that occasionally glimmers and otherwise gyrates.

In a Cave

Your English Is Good