Tokyo Police Club - Champ - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tokyo Police Club - Champ

by Louise Harlow Rating:8 Release Date:2010-07-19

In the pursuit of a sunnier outlook, Tokyo Police Club dropped several degrees of latitude, left their native Canada and switched coasts to Los Angeles to record their 'breezy' third album, Champ. Strange but fortuitous then, that TPC have served up a gloom-baiting canon which leaves sophomore release Elephant Shell sounding like a chipper, pre-binge/bipolar Brian Wilson by comparison.

Despite a track listing awash with deceptively ingenuous matter, playground pitter-patter and even a token Disney character (albeit one awash with tragedy), Champ is no holiday record. The album yawns into action with the swilling synths of 'Favourite Food', over which Dave Monks' lyrical burble manages to take last Thursday's reheated leftovers and wring from it a fairly fraught emotional thread. This gastro-confessional bubbles along until 2:04 in, when a fractious percussive line is shaken out above a rangy bass, neither crowding the lynchpin of Monks' vocal.

The track retreats to the Editors-esque trembling guitar arcs which colour much of succeeding 'Favourite Colour', where a sing-song chorus is felled by the obscure bleakness of Monks' lyrics: "The day that I found you like that/ The national child star in a coat and scarf/ Alone in the laundromat". TCP still have the smarts to temper the downbeat with humour - let kudos be given to the man who can work the original template for rock n roll marital dysfunction into an earnest love song with credibility intact: "Like Sonny & Cher/ you're Tina but I'm not Ike' (never mind talk a girl's knickknacks off with "Tell me what's your favourite colour?")

Things continue in this alternately pithy and profound style with the downward-gaze and taut, sparse anxiety (passing nod to YYYs) of 'Breakneck Speed' and 'Wait Up', in which woozy "woo-hoos" are foiled by lyrical eulogies to limping, listing intimacies. Champ hits full stride and slides into its dancing boots with the strafing, seismometer pop of standout track 'Bambi'. Propulsive, pinball synths roll over obtuse lyrics concerned with kite-toting killers- the whole thing sounds glorious and feels like falling in love on fast forward.

The band lose their way a little in the second half of the album, slipping into anonymous territory with 'Hands Reversed' and 'Gone'; the latter, ironically, is concerned with the blithe 'day by the seaside' ethos which the band had sought in their move south west. When TCP's collective brow is once again furrowed with the album's closing triumvirate, particularly the apathetic volley of 'Frankenstein', the band's pulse returns.

Alongside Japandroids, Caribou and a slew of other incredible Canadian bands, TPC are going a long way to smothering heinous memories of the Maple Leaf Hag Dion, and restoring transatlantic relations in a shimmering shower of cathartic dance-floor pep. Champion.

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'Maple Leaf Hag Dion' - love it!

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