Dave Monks croons “It’s good to be back, it’s good to be back” on ‘Breakneck Speed’, on of the singles from Tokyo Police Club’s second album, Champ. The first single from the Canadian quartet is sublimely subdued: delayed guitars graze the surface of bleating drums, but is it good they’re back?
It would seem that the Ontario band have moved away from The Strokes sound that has been rife on previous efforts and releases and Monk’s vocals sound stronger and a lot more prominent.
‘Bambi’s sketchy, wired opening is refreshing and leads on to the creeping of clean guitars that dart in and out of the whiney vocals. This minute segment of brilliance is welcomed towards the end of the album as it’s all been getting very tired and repetitive up until now.
It’s on ‘Champ’ that TPC sound like a jolted Hope Of The States. Sometimes Dave Monk’s vocals can tear the heart out of a song. Gone is a prime example of this heinous act, an upbeat elasticised song drained by Monk’s amniotic vocal drone. At times it can contribute an elegant din but can also sound overused.
‘Big Difference’ has to be the stand-out track on an album that is trying a bit too hard. Palmed guitar notes expand into riffs that We Are Scientists would be proud of and trembling bass that matches earnest drums. The difference between this song and many other on Champ is that ‘Big Difference’ creates a sense of urgency and chaos and the other tracks on Champ simply pass you by.
Where David Monk will fail frequently with his vocals he does make up for with lyrical ambiguity. You can never really tell if he is pleased with his life or not, although the mystery is part of the fun. The songs are all abnormally short, but this isn’t really a bad thing, if they were any longer then listeners would likely skip to the next track.
Although this album is basically good, it’s not outstanding. It pushes no boundaries or tests the limits of their potential as a band and have stuck to a tried and tested formula. However, it does make the album as a whole rather tired, only ‘Bambi’ and a few others really stand out from the crowd.
It’s a triumph that TPC have managed to release another album without altering their sound too much, but surely they’re running low on ideas? Hopefully on the next album they’ll manage to take things in a different direction.