Following 2008’s Elephant Shell, Canadian indie geeks Tokyo Police Club deliver Champ. Opening with the angular and cymbal-strung ‘Favourite Food’, some may breath a sigh of relief that Tokyo Police Club have abided by an ‘if it ain’t broke . . .’ rule; whilst others may be struck by a nasty sense of déjà vu. In truth there’s little deviation from group’s standard formula of quiet lulling intros building up to frenzied guitar-driven crescendos, thumping drums and buoyant keyboards.
Few surprises await the ears on TPC’s latest offering. However, a few token gems are to be found, most notably ‘Hands Reversed’, a track which demonstrates Dave Monks’ versatility as a vocalist and contains a veiled Kurt Vonnegut reference. In keeping with the decade’s penchant for ’80s synth explosions, ‘Not Sick’ showcases a smattering of electronica with some bolshie keyboards, combined with a layer of lyrical cynicism (“I want to marry a dancer, a vegetarian who can’t stand to be wrong”) makes it one of the more interesting tracks on the album.
In true Tokyo Police Club fashion, Champ is a succinctly short album at just over 30 minutes long; and it ends at the right time. Ironically, ‘Breakneck Speed’, meanders on at anything but. The aptly named ‘Frankenstein’ seems a monstrous pastiche of chunks of previous tracks. And throughout Champ there are enough tracks punctuated with more ‘oohs’, ‘aaahs’ and ‘do-do-do’s’ to out-Thrill The Thrills.
Through the repetitiveness and what some may deem lack of invention, TPC have delivered their ‘difficult second album’, and while it’s barely a departure from their previous work, there are some nuances that hint at a slowly maturing band. But for now, it seems, they aim to play it safe. It’s a Marmite album; either hail it as a champ or shrug it off as a chump.