Tokyo Police Club place a high premium on time. They evidently don’t believe in wasting it, as their debut album manages to rattle through its 11 songs in a mere 28 minutes. That’s less time than it takes most bands to plug in and only a minute longer than your average Mars Volta guitar solo, but listening to ‘Elephant Shell’ you can’t help but think that more bands should employ the Ontarian quartet’s policy of stringent self-editing.
Musically, ‘Elephant Shell’ follows on from the band’s hysterically well-received 2007 EP ‘A Lesson In Crime’; Strokes-y guitars do battle in glorious staccato over hummable post-punk melodies while taut, vice-tight drums underpin the whole operation. Indeed, anyone who gets misty-eyed when they think about 2001 will find much to love here. From the jubilant swagger of ‘In A Cave’ to ‘Nursery Academy’’s soaring, sugary chorus of “the word on the street is/That you’ve got a weakness”, its heart is brimming with gold rather than darkness. Without wishing to press the point too much, if Julian Casablancas and co are still seeking inspiration for that elusive fourth album they could do a lot worse than give this record a spin.
‘Elephant Shell’, however, succeeds on its own terms; shorn of all excessive fripperies, these are incisive, spiky songs that take up residence inside your head almost as quickly as they conclude – witness the swooning drama of ‘Tessellate’ or the jaunty, Casiotone chant-along that comprises ‘Your English Is Good’. Adhering to a strict pop ethos that usually gets to the chorus inside 40 seconds and climaxes two-and-a-half thrilling minutes later, nothing on ‘Elephant Shell’ outstays its welcome, even down to the less-infectious numbers such as ‘Listen To The Math’. This album may be svelte, but it’s far from slight.