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Tokyo Police Club
Elephant Shell
Saddle Creek
April 22, 2008

This immediately disarming debut long player from young gun, indie rockers Tokyo Police Club goes chameleon at rapid-fire speeds, swiftly shifting from beatific linger-core (fuzz bass down tempo slowburner “Listen To The Math”) to manic stabs at chop sueyed synth-driven punk rock (“Your English Is Good”). TPC’s amorphous nature inevitably invites far flung combination comparisons, like John Vanderslice fronting a Joe Jackson coverband or Death Cab for the ADD, emokid set.

“Listen To The Math” finds its narrator errantly swinging out for flimsy lifelines when faced with an inevitable death. David Monks’ brazen hopefulness resonates with emergency room intensity as he slips in less than casual observations like “These hospital machines are state of the art.” And on the sure-to-get-noticed “Juno,” (as much for its twee breakthrough film title kinship as its chime-laden driving melodies) Monks and the boys sound like the loneliest rockers on earth, from the opening line’s existential isolation (“I’ve got a place in the arctic circle / I’ve got a place that I’ve painted white”) to the superbly crunchy percussion (thanks to Greg Alsop’s divinely shape-shifting drum skills). Lead single, “Tessellate” is filled with invoked nighttime beachfront trysts and handclaps so perfect they could’ve almost been left out and still been heard implicitly. The track is constructed so tightly and produced so smoothly that the airtight end product mirrors it’s title and the song’s numerous implied embraces.

Elephant Shell plays like a single, spiraling song, constantly maneuvering through parallel storylines and song structures, invoking disparate sources and winding up unanimously implacable. And when the band’s “In A Cave” feels like its about to drop away into acapella isolato, it instead sweeps upward with a punk rock chorus of voices: “But still, don’t fade, I’ll be back again when the tide is in some day.” Hopefully after delivering such a powerful slate of melodies, Tokyo Police Club’s tide will return soon.

Favorite Track: “Juno”

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Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in San Francisco with a girl and a designer dog (Chihuahua vs. dachshund). He is in a band by himself and has a myspace account ( and a production company ( for freelance film and crit/journo work.

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