On “Champ’s” opener “Favourite Food,” Tokyo Police Club’s (TPC) Dave Monks opens on his subject’s home in a hospital where scratched knees, black eyes and plaster casts are included. Mature and slow growing, the guitar-strummed balladry may be as far from the delivery of the wide-eyed Canadian creators of ‘06s frantic roll-along “Cheer It On” as a fan would expect.
It’s a brief feeling though as almost immediately Monks mentions it’s “noon-o-clock and you’re still asleep,” and how the subject’s coffee is “iccyyy.” It’s here, on the long-awaited sophomore release from TPC, that as the sound just begins to kick into its pop gear, dripping with the draw of a set-closing, Warped-Tour-summer anthem, “Favourite Food,” is over.
Tokyo Police Club seem to have always made music that’s devoid of very much of a listener thought requirement and with the Mom + Pop Music-released “Champ”—two years senior to the band’s debut LP “Elephant Shell”—the quartet continue down its adopted toll-free road of making the same delightful, brazen don’t-let-your-youth-go-to-waste pop.
Continuing on having a laundry list of notable teen lyric quirks, over these eleven songs, Monks sings of “shoes without socks,” “backs of cars,” “waiting up,” how “it’s good to be bad,” favorite colors, and “being overwhelmed” in the same fashion as previous efforts. You can’t help notice a bit of his endearing, thrift-store, geek-poet-like quality.
A blanket that could be set to cover most of “Champ” is stitched from the same thread that one could argue has kept the entire band’s career cozy long enough to afford them things like two-year periods in between long-playing releases: the fenced-in creation of music that’s amusing, pure and infections. Being said, when listening to it all at one time though, it starts to feel like something that just merely exists; not fully fruitless though not mouth-wide-open praise-worthy either.
This record’s power is still certainly great enough to keep remaining fans comfy and pleased, though when it comes to the needs of new ones, the Champ may find itself cheerlessly benched.
On “Favorite Colour” Monks compares a relationship to “K-Ci & JoJo or Sonny and Cher” and without having to dig much deeper, the record is summed up as all it needs to be: a familiar, perfect part deux to “Elephant Shell.” It may attempt to dance around like a growing effort of celebratory career-shifting sound (confetti on the album’s cover) though, truthfully, it’s still a sound that safely walks the line between hook-laden power pop and mall-filling teen—dare I say it—emo punk; take “Gone,” a three-minute reference to Saves the Day and Weezer for this.
In attempting the pull one of the cover’s confetti pieces out to represent a standout, “Bambi” sees the bad tinkering with a math rock sound a la Battles or Foals, but the “I wanna tell you there’s a really good reason why I came home wasted at the middle of the night,” song setting pulls you back safely into TPC’s cushy territory. “Champ” as a whole is not upsetting, nor immense and plays with the same energy the band is well known for, though in the days where Hot Topic mall goers are either growing up or shifting to the Gaga camp, Tokyo Police Club will be there for all those seeking out that one ‘indie’ record to download alongside “Manners” and after “Wolfgang Amadeus,” that’s a no-frills, lean take on focused pop shine.
Words: Matt Draper