Tokyo Police Club’s Champ feels like a trip back to whatever small town you were from and a visit to whatever small girl it was you used to like when you used to be a small boy.
Filled with songs that barely escape three minutes, the second record from Newmarket’s favourite sons is a more emotional effort than Elephant Shell but it still maintains the energy and fun that made that first LP shine.
Of course, it’s been hard for Tokyo Police Club to climb ahead of the hype around their fantastic debut Lesson in Crime EP. While some, like myself, have admired their ability to tell sharp, concise stories in relatively short and simple spaces, others have pined for the days of yore.
Frontman David Monks is again picking up on the angles he delivered with Elephant Shell. His vocals carry more weight to them and his stories feel richer, expanding into memories of childhood and sunny days when school was out and friends came to visit through the bedroom window.
For Tokyo Police Club, the name of the game is filling in the spaces with catchy pop hooks and delectably sweet melodies. Champ has no shortage of either, keeping to a charming pattern of delivering radio-ready, digestible tunes that play excellently with a big tall pitcher of Kool-Aid and some fun on the trampoline.
Tokyo Police Club no longer has to live up to the magic of Lessons in Crime, allowing the quartet every opportunity to spread their wings into more melodic territory.
Champ begins with “Favourite Food” and “Favourite Colour,” a pair of tracks that crackle with the sweetness of summer rain. The off-kilter “tune up” of “Favourite Food” lies perfectly with the band’s hesitancy to pull the song out to its natural pace and the beauty of the marvellous hooks of “Favourite Colour” is sometimes hard to bear. The choruses are addictive.
“Hands Reversed” is probably my favourite track on the album. Monks sings “Because the breakfast of champions is a hedonistic hell” with deadpan accuracy, unloading one of the album’s great lyrics like a weight on his shoulders. At the same time, the band keeps it light and poppy with gently swaying guitar and keys.
Like Elephant Shell, Champ is an album of memories. Not all of them are grand and some of them are confusing, like the time that small girl you used to like when you used to be a small boy almost kissed your small nose but turned away at the last damned second, but the luxury isn’t often in the good or bad of the remembrance – it’s in the remembering itself.