This is going to be ugly but I’ll just say it: Elephant Shell, the just-released CD by Tokyo Police Club, is boring.
To the irate fans that read that line and immediately put fingertips to keyboards to howl about my musical ignorance, I extend my apologies. I realize that Rolling Stone and other music industry giants have anointed the 20-something members of Tokyo Police Club the second coming of The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, and The Kinks all rolled into one.
Certainly the 100+ attendees at a recent “MySpace” Secret Show in Baltimore that featured the band heeded the call (I might say “drank the Kool Aid” but I don’t want to be mean-spirited) to worship TPC. It was interesting to watch as the band hammered out almost every song from its new album, stopped the music on a dime, took swigs from water bottles as they ignored the cheering crowd, and then immediately hammered out another tune.
In fairness, members of TPC are obviously terrific musicians with their jackhammer-fast playing of what Rolling Stone called “Mod Punk Party Starters.”
To be honest, the mumbled lyrics and pounding sound makes each of the 11 songs on the CD almost non distinguishable. Since all but one song is under three minutes, it’s easy to put the CD in your player and not realize when the album has played through and restarted. There are a few songs which has lyrics that stand out a bit. For example, if you listen carefully you can hear the band singing "Graves," the title of the song over and over. But that's one of the few distinguishing trademarks of any of the songs.
When I was a kid in Sunday school, some of the students would recite prayers perfectly and crisply but without a hint of emotion or feeling about the actual words. That’s what I hear when I listen to TPC. Technically, it’s perfect. Emotionally, not so much.