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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Tokyo Police Club
Elephant Shell
Saddle Creek

Rating: 7/10 ?


May 6, 2008
New albums from buzz bands can sometimes have the shelf life of a banana. Sure they're fresh and tasty on those first few listens, but they often turn soft, brown, and unappealing with repeated spins. Listening those first few times, one often wonders just how a record will stand up over time. There are rare no-brainers; when I first laid ears on the Strokes' debut, although it wasn't going to re-write rock and roll history, I knew it wasn't going stale anytime soon. Even scarcer are those debuts that age like a bottle of fine wine, becoming fuller and more remarkable with the perspective of time. Arcade Fire's Funeral comes to mind, an album that seemingly gets better every year. Ah, the inexact science of digesting new music.

Elephant Shell, the hyped debut from Ontario's Tokyo Police Club, is of a curious vintage in itself. I've spun this disc dozens of times, not because I'm in love with it, but rather to gain perspective on how it will wear over time. Like those repetitive mechanical tests that laboratory researchers perform to simulate years of wear and tear on everything from car engines to bed springs, putting an album through a compressed sequence of listens is an important exercise with a band that is highly unoriginal, yet highly engaging. Over the sub-half-hour playing time, Tokyo Police Club manages to pop out hook after hook of delightfully late-for-the-party songs. That they do this without actually crashing the party is a feat unto itself. The formula = [tight songwriting + snappy arrangements] - [false pretense] / [youthful exuberance].

In 2006 the four young men, who learned to play as seniors in high school (take that Franz Ferdinand!), churned out a 16-minute EP called A Lesson in Crime. The blast of Canadian air caught the jetstream just right, turning the bright lights of the mainstream media (NY Times, Interview, Blender et al) on to the band named after a nonsensical lyric from the very EP itself. Did The Monkees ever have it this easy? Either modern times have made it easier for talent to break, or technology's buzz machine has lowered the hanging fruit to within spitting distance.

At not even twice the length of their EP, the initiation LP delivers the good stuff and fluff just fine. The light fare comes fast, if not always furious, from the opening of "Centennial," to "The Baskervilles," ten tracks on. Lead vocalist David Monks doesn't have the most melodic range, but he gets points for earnest delivery, accompanied by his slap-happy bass lines. The backing band of guitar, keys and drums also get it done, winding up and letting loose with aplomb.

If Tokyo Police Club are unknowingly, and uncannily, channeling anyone, it's not the obvious ilk of Bloc Party, but rather the zest of Portland's The Joggers. The atonal melodies, chorale chants and start-stop rhythms are so close to With a Cape and a Cane, they could be sister records. Since The Joggers are doing respectable things within their arc of the never-ending post-punk curve, Tokyo Police Club are bound to likewise get good grades in their wake. I can't say with conviction that Elephant Shell will stand the test of time - it could be forgotten within a year - but such is the peril of retreading well-worn musical ground. The album should, however, stay fresh for the summer. On the spectrum of banana to wine, Elephant Shell is along the lines of a lime.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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