The highly anticipated full-length has finally arrived. Tokyo Police Club’s Elephant Shell dropped last week amid a whirlwind of hype, generated by almost two years of waiting and the release of the album’s single, “Your English Is Good,” last summer. For the most part, the group’s youthful charm and punk aesthetic remain intact. The album’s polished sound and overall catchiness show that these boys know a thing or two about writing pop songs.
The album kicks off with slow-building “Centennial.” The opening lyrics “This is skin you can wrap all of your arms and legs in,” seem almost grotesque, but sung in Dave Monk’s youthful croon they come off as innocent and strangely charming. The aniticlimactic nature if the song is reflective of the album as a whole. In Elephant Shell, the band trades some of their energy for a more subdued and honed in sound.
“In A Cave” comes next with Greg Aslop’s steady drums keeping the rhythm fluid throughout the song. Ornamentation of high-hat flourishes, keyboard and handclaps is added gradually at just the right moments. Many of the album’s tracks feature a similar style of restraint and gradual building, including “Juno” and “Nursey Academy.”
This is not to say that the boys of TPC have done a complete 180 since A Lesson in Crime. “Your English is Good,” “Tessellate” and “Graves” shine with energy and pop brilliance. The difference is that songs from previous EP’s seemed more uninhibited. Monk’s up and down vocals are now unbroken throughout each track, and instrumentation is far more steady and even. For fans in search of more easy listening, these changes may be welcome, but if you love Tokyo Police Club for their explosive nature and youthful excitement, you will be slightly disappointed.