On TPC, the self-titled and fourth full-length LP from Tokyo Police Club, they crank up the guitars and hone in on their songwriting. Coming off of two quick EPs, entitled Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness (Part I and II), after the success of my favorite effort to date by the band, Forcefield, Tokyo Police Club wanted to reinvent themselves once again. What we are left with is a solid mix of guitar-driven rock by a band still trying to figure out who they are.
Starting off the 12-song set is the track called “New Blues,” that reminded me a bit of the garage-rock style of The Strokes with Dave Monks trademark earnest vocal delivery. When Monks sings, “Battle cry, I can barely sleep/It happens every single time/It’s in my heart/It’s in my soul/For once I don’t want it to be denied,” you can feel every heartbeat and drop of emotion that went into the song. It also doesn’t hurt to have a very talented guitarist backing Monks’ words in Josh Hook, who certainly lives up to his last name by crafting several key hooks in many of the memorable songs found on this album.
The second song, and first song released as a single, “Pigs” is a great guitar rock song that swaggers like a band that has been doing this for a while, and quite well I might add. Bassist and lead vocalist Monks sing with a refreshed confidence on this track, and its an excellent choice of a lead single.
“Hercules” is another early standout track that again reminds me of the early Strokes vibes and the brooding confidence that their band showed on their now-historic debut. Other songs like, “Simple Dude,” find Monks being a tad more reflective than confident, yet the quality doesn’t take a backseat at all. Monks even confesses on this song, “Not that you could tell/Not that you would guess/By the way I’m talking/By the way I dress/I’m just a simple dude/With a complicated soul/I want you in your body/Tell me and I’ll roll.” Having met Monks after a concert in DC, I can personally attest to the fact that he is very down to earth and approachable. This is definitely not an “act,” and you get what you see when it comes to Monks’ and crew’s honesty found in their songs.
“Unseen” is a nice down-tempo almost-ballad that is filled with starts and stops from the band and works well with its sequencing on the disc. One of the more aggressive songs on the LP, “Dltfwyh” has a cool guitar looped riff in the beginning and builds up to the acronym of a chorus when Monks sings, “Don’t let them fuck with your heart.” Good advice aside, this is one of my favorite songs that Tokyo Police Club has written to date.
“Can’t Stay Here” soars to new-found heights not typically found from this artist, with its great bass lines and pop-style song structure. Monks sings on the second verse, “I guess there’s nothing I could say/That would change the way things are/Don’t you know that I need you now?/Meet you in another life (back to bed)/Tell me everything you’ve learned/Make it so, cause I can’t stay here.” The chorus of this song leaves more lyrical content to be desired, but the overall shiny production of this song makes it a keeper.
While “Ready to Win” finds Monks finding each and every way to use F-bombs over and over, but it’s a clever break of pace from the speedy electric guitar-driven approach of the front half of the record. Composed mostly on the acoustic guitar, “Ready to Win” Monks gets straight down to the “everyman” approach and confesses all the reasons why you should care.
“Edgy” is a nice spacey rocker to close out the final three songs on this record, as it allows the band to do what they do best, write killer hooks and breakdowns. “One of These Days” is a great ballad to close out the set, and will likely become a crowd favorite on their upcoming North American tour this Fall. “Daisy Chain” is the final song and one of the weaker songs included on this record, and may have been better served as a B-side rather than the last memory found on the LP.
Overall, this a very fun album and I’m happy with the new approach that Tokyo Police Club took on this effort. One can only hope they continue to expand upon this sound in new and interesting ways in the records to follow. This record isn’t perfect by any means, but at least the arrow is trending in the right direction.