Tokyo Police Club - Champ (Memphis Industries)

Is it second album syndrome for Tokyo Police Club?

Released Aug 9th, 2010 via Memphis Industries / By Sam Kelly
Tokyo Police Club - Champ (Memphis Industries) Tokyo Police Club are back with their second full length album Champ, after the initial unexpected breakthrough success of their 2006 mini album, A Lesson In Crime. Though the result is an exciting and prosperous LP, through the layers of ecstasy and elevation arisen on the listener, muffled moments of second album syndrome disappointingly seep through. Opening duo ‘Favourite Food’ and ‘Favourite Colour’ are definitely two finer tracks of the 11, and one could not ask for a better start to an album.

Instantly, the imperative lyrics of singer/bassist Dave Monks stand out in ‘Favourite Food.’ Phrases like “grainy photographs, greasy hair,” lead one to question why more singers aren’t indulging in traditional poetic devices. Similes? Metaphors? It seems so simple! It’s definitely something that has been missing from recent music. The track really builds up and explodes towards the end, baring those early first album resemblances to Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

As they stomp through the chorus of ‘Favourite Colour’, it almost angers me that I’m sat here writing about it, rather than getting drunk and dancing to it.

‘Bambi’ features a terrific jerky guitar-driven rhythm, and this little gem keeps popping up throughout the song, it’s ridiculously catchy! It sounds rather similar to the songs of Brit’s own Bombay Bicycle Club, and one might suggest Tokyo Police Club are their Atlantic competitors. Monks continues to depict and explore great imagery, and the line “killer with a coloured kite” even rivals the likes of Alex Turner for lyrical genius. Whilst many young fans will be able to relate to these lyrics, it’s hard to imagine anyone over 25 thoroughly enjoying it…

‘Breakneck Speed’ features too many similarities to American pop-punk, and they would do well to break away from this style. Though not an obvious hit single, the song marches on, offering some reminiscing times of youthful activity. The bass parts in ‘Gone’ sound fantastic, but it’s a shame not much can be said for the rest of the song. Definitely an album filler, jee, what a waste!

Unfortunately, the latter half of the album seems to be waffling an awful lot, like a dreaded Christmas conversation with a distant, drunk, and grumpy granddad. That is of course, until he surprises you with an excellently chosen present, i.e. the chorus of ‘Big Difference’ - wonderfully majestic at times, but not enough to entirely seize your attention.

Finally the latter half of the album sparks excitement in ‘Not Sick’, with a bit more energy from Monks, and some more interesting musical parts. The few lines of shouting really push the song forward and regain the listener’s attention - if only they did this earlier, they would never have lost it.

Nevertheless, the majority of these songs are agitating, if only because you can’t sit still and listen to the album; you need to be moving, and this surely, is one of the greatest achievements for the indie-pop band.

'Frankenstein' is a brilliantly produced song, and if anything, the acoustic quality carries it to the end, as the last few glimmers of Monks’ lyrics shine through to grasp their final few moments of glory. Then again, the finale is somewhat disappointing, it sounds like they got bored and tired of playing, and just fumbled off stage. It does however, seem fit for Champ; after a vibrant and energetic start, the second half fails to ignite that initial vigour. At times it touches upon it, but despite one’s hopes, it never fully re-grasps it.