Music Review of Elephant Shell by Tokyo Police Club
Author: Darren Tan
"Tokyo Police Club" are a four-piece Canadian indie rock band from Newmarket, Ontario. Tokyo Police Club were formed in 2005 and they are Dave Monks (Vocals and Bass), Josh Hook (Guitar), Graham Wright (Keyboards) and Greg Alsop (Drums). Their musical genres are mainly indie rock, garage rock and post-punk revival.
Elephant Shell has a good opening with "Centennial". In the few seconds upon opening, you can hear the sound of a malfunctioned robot. The robot might be stuck or jammed somewhere, i thought to myself. Shortly, the draggy keyboard and Dave Monks just come in. Centennial is not a fast tempo track, but the guitar and bass seem to be able to work this track out. In the bridge, handclaps joining by keyboard, just come in for a brief second. And that might be one of the best moments on Centennial. At the end, i like Dave Monks goes, "I'm only wishing well, though you won't believe me, this coming Thursday evening, is our centennial…" and succeeded by wedding-like keyboard. A short opening, but i'm convinced to find out more about Tokyo Police Club.
"In A Cave" starts with guitar that comes in from afar before joining by In A Cave's core bassline. Before Dave comes in, the music is already really good. When it comes to the chorus where Dave again goes, "All my hair grows in, wrinkles leave my skin, but still, don't fade… I'll be back again when the tide is in some day…", the keyboard suddenly enters and the rest of Tokyo Police Club can be heard helping Dave out in the background. The second verse gets even fiercer with the guitar and bass, but somehow it's not loud. It still manages to sound light and effortless. The best bet on In A Cave is definitely the remaining 1 minute after the second chorus. Dave just struts his stuff, "Elephant shell, you're my cave and I've been hiding out, will you tell me a little bit about, a bit about yourself?" and joining him are the guitar, bass, drums and keyboard which play in notes that we first heard in the beginning. Only this time, Tokyo Police Club add some magic to it! Impressive stuff by Tokyo Police Club here!
From the lyrics of "Graves", it sounds like a script of a horror movie. "Pack your ashes pack a watch, change of clothes and a face cloth, meet me where your mother lies, we'll dig graves on both her sides…" The guitar keeps playing in a loop once Graves opens before the drums, bass and keyboard come in all together. A sudden adrenaline rush! Graves is one of those tracks that don't really have a chorus and relies on the music to drag it or make it a longer track. After Dave's vocals on the second verse, it feels like Tokyo Police Club are having a short break by playing the music. They really do have a strong liking for keyboards. Nearing the end, Dave just sing to the end accompanied by a howl-like sound that comes on and off.
"Juno" has some drum beats going on. As Dave sings in the chorus, it looks like there's a sound in the background which i think is produced by the instrument Xylophone, adding some Christmas feel to it. Reaching the chorus, Juno seems to be turning to keyboard to go along with Dave's vocals, "You and your soapy eyes, called it off so late at night, but your hand's on your heart, because your head's always right…" The Xylophone also plays its part here on a few notes that really complement the chorus. As Juno goes on, it ends on a sudden and tired note, "Juno, you're tired…" But i'm just getting started to know Tokyo Police Club.
"Tessellate" has some high and sharp pitched guitar in the beginning. Just as Dave sings each phrase of the verse, the keyboards which possess some catchy ingredients just come in at the right time to make sure we as listeners are having a good time listening to Tessellate. In the chorus, Dave sings with his already-known voice, "… Dead lovers salivate, broken hearts tessellate tonight…" Tokyo Police Club show some effort here by adding hand claps along side to Dave's voice. The real deal on Tessellate is definitely the sound of the keyboard which always never fails to capture my attention as it's too good. And at times, it sounds like a piano. Now i just can't get the sound of it off my head.
"Sixties Remake" kicks off with some crunchy guitar opening that reminds me of those motorcycles engine on the highway. As this song goes and reaches a point where an exclaimation of "Hey" can be heard, i already knew Sixties Remake is one of the tracks that is going to be my favourite on Elephant Shell. The crunchy guitar is one of the factors that keeps Sixties Remake so good. In the chorus, Dave just goes, "Hey! Bat your lips, shut your eyes… Hey! Swing those chains, and start a fight, because you've got nerve, but we've got tapped…" This has got to be one of the loudest and crunchiest tracks on the album.
"The Harrowing Adventures Of…" has me thinking that this is one of the tracks that might be suitable for babies. The xylophone just plays in notes that will make all babies in the world smile upon listening to it. It's not long before Dave enters the bay twilight zone, "The harrowing adventures of, you and I when we were captains of, submarines made of steel…" When it got to the point that sounds like a chorus, acoustic guitar can be heard playing in a way that blend in so well with the vocals of Dave and xylophone. Two string instruments which sounded like a cello and a violin can also be heard here. I really didn't expect that to come, but Tokyo Police Club surprise me here. The Harrowing Adventures Of… is undefiantly cute and cheeky in its own way. It will gulp you down slowly.
"Nursery, Academy" is a short rock track that i find Dave sings on different notes in a few minutes. In the beginning, Dave can be heard singing, "I would've gone back home, i would've gone back home, it's bad enough you're here and it's worse that you've come along…" Smart lyrics i thought. This song begins to pick up in a short while once the bass comes in. Keyboardist Graham must have worked very hard here as the keyboard is all over the place with different notes. Tokyo Police Club are trying very hard on this track to make it sounds as good as possible. I can feel that they work very hard on this track.
"Your English Is Good" has Tokyo Police Club choiring, "Oh, give us your vote, give us your vote, if you know what's good for you…" before the whole track sounds very full as the music comes in all together. Your English Is Good is cheeky and cute with the keyboard playing in repetition in the same notes throughout the track. Everytime the keyboard enters, a smile appears on my face. Tokyo Police Club also go together with, "Because your English is good, we can see it in your bones, in this neighborhood, we ain't driving you home…" With such title, Your English Is Good will definitely catch everyone's attention in the tracklist section. Plus another good thing is the cute keyboard and choir that are in this track. Sweet and cute!
"Listen To The Math" has a slow opening where Dave's voice seems to be the music here. The keyboards and bass add some weight to Dave's singing as he's into the second part of the first verse. Once it gets to the chorus, it feels light with the guitar. "It's a ruse, it's a laugh, experts they'd agree, listen to the math…" Shortly after the chorus, the guitar switches to a chrunchier note that seems to be able to add some extra effects and weights to Listen To The Math. Another mention is the deep background voice that comes in during the chorus. It just follows Dave's singing in the background. Listen To The Math can regarded as a ballad that will stick to you like a fungus after a few listenes.
As the last track on Elephant Shell, "The Baskervilles" has some moments on it that stands out. The choiring moments by Tokyo Police Club is worth mentioning and appear on some parts of the song and never fail to create an impact on the listeners. They would go, "Alright, we tried to help…" As we get further into The Baskervilles, the track starts to pick up and the music just sounds as lively as ever. The guitar and keyboards work their way out here. Even nearing the end, Dave increases his singing tone and yell, "A toast to the last of a dying breed, they're crawling back to bed, they're falling back to sleep" to the end. A very strong finish by Tokyo Police Club.
About the author: Darren Tan is a huge avid fan of indie music, indie bands and indie artists. Since he was 17 years old, he started to fall in love with the indie music scene. It was a total turning point in his life for him as he no longer look at the indie music industry the same since.
With http://www.indiesurf.com he wants to share his thoughts, comments, reviews and opinions on the latest (and past/old) indie music, indie bands and indie artists with the world and you. You are also invited to share your views as well, so he'll see you at Indiesurf.com.
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