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Tokyo Police Club: Elephant Shell


Tokyo Police Club

Album: Elephant Shell
Label: Saddle Creek

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It's generally good when bands mature: Youthful exuberance and attitude can only be convincing for so long. Tokyo Police Club, a Canadian outfit populated by young men barely into their 20s, came out swinging with A Lesson In Crime, an EP that made up for in fiery energy what it lacked in running time. Elephant Shell, TPC's debut full-length (if 28 minutes constitutes "full-length") is crackling with fun and life, but it also feels naggingly like a band trying to grow up too fast. Adrenaline-rush moments are parceled out more carefully than they should be: "Tessellate" and "Your English Is Good" pulse with punk-inspired life, and "Sixties Remake" adds layers the band hadn't tried before, without sacrificing energy. But when things slow down too much, it's like the flip side of a graying band trying to rock too hard: "The Harrowing Adventures Of…" is nicely chilled, but ultimately pretty forgettable. Elsewhere, there's a more obvious tension between the urge to redline and the desire for something more grandiose: "Nursery, Academy" adds swelling keyboards, but only half-succeeds at it. "Centennial" does the same thing better, because it snarls when it should and retreats when the time is right. If Elephant Shell had been packed with such immediate songs, it would've been more successful. As it stands, it's a really good album by a band that should've made—and still might make—a really, really great one.