Review – Champ by Tokyo Police Club June 14, 2010

The following was originally published in Beatroute Magazine. I like TPC, and I like this album. Adam Cristobal does not. He called this album lame. My head is filled with confusion.


Tokyo Police Club is a band haunted by it’s moments of greatness. Between the EP standout and de facto theme song “Cheer It On” and definitive tracks like “Your English Is Good”, it would have been all too easy to make their latest a retread of well formulas established on a couple of well received productions. The sad part is that while Champ represents a ton of excellent steps forward in the songwriting chops of the band, there may be elements of their fanbase opposed to this advance.

The Tokyo Police Club school of songwriting thus far has been to lay down a series of fuzzy hooks and energetic phrases to create moderately danceable songs that stand pretty much on their own, islands unto themselves. Champ does not fully reject the lessons learned doing so, but seems to badly ache for some sophomore maturity. The result is a more cohesive, dependent set of songs coming together to form Tokyo Police Club’s first satisfying full album experience. Tracks such as “Hands Reversed” take their time and represent a little a calm on the album, where “Boots of Danger (Wait Up)” provides a pop answer to such leanings, a trend that repeats on Champ. Avoiding any kind of sleepiness, they dial up the synth and speed on “Big Difference” and “Not Sick”, the latter finding new life in guitar theories examined heavily on Elephant Shell.

The vigor here not gone, it’s just different than their previous work. Champ lacks the kind of recklessness seen on the Smith EP and A Lesson In Crime, but is no less potent. They’re taking a breath and taking their time and are better off for it. Fear not though, because with “Favourite Colour” and “Bambi” effectively flanking first single “Breakneck Speed”, there is more than enough to satiate the craving for fun summer indie rock Tokyo Police Club has made a career out of providing.