Three quarters of Tokyo Police Club thought they were dead and buried until a couple of years ago. Greg Alsop was living and working in LA, whilst Graham Wright and Josh Hook had remained in Canada.
After some initial communications via email as they tried to make the band work, it felt as though it had run to its natural conclusion. However, when they asked singer-bassist and chief songwriter Dave Monks, who had settled into life in New York City and made a solo record, he disagreed and went on a mission to convince the Ontario group to make another LP.
Monks had just experienced a miserable break up which, along with the uncertainty of the band, gave him renewed artistic purpose. “I had the most difficult year of my life, and making this record really helped me,” he explained. “I didn’t think it was a break-up record, but now it almost feels like I was breaking up with my entire past.”
Convincing them all to return to Ontario to record in an old church, the relaxed atmosphere manifested into what is their best record since Elephant Shell. Heading to LA to finalise it, they worked with producer Rob Schnapf from their second album Champ.
Although TPC doesn’t break any new ground on a sonic level, it recaptures the visceral excitement you got from hearing the band for the first time in 2008. ‘New Blues’ kicks things off with what is a far more serious and reflective lyrical style than fans of the band will be used to.
‘Hercules’ keeps to this and also sneaks in the catchy hooks that are reflective of the indie-rock circuit they’re embedded in. ‘Simple Dude’ treads on similar ground with a big, powerful chorus that will stand out when the group return to the live circuit. The same can be said for ‘DLTFWYH’, which features at least half a century of F-Bombs from a song that really ties its colours to the mass with a name that stand for ‘Don’t let them fuck with your heart’.
There are some fillers that stop the record from being a great one though, with the likes of ‘Can’t Stay Here’ and ‘Outtatime’ not really going anywhere. However, ‘Ready to Win’ and ‘One of These Days’ do not fall into this category and are both memorable moments, with the former starting life off as a simple, blues-inspired acoustic track, before the deeply personal composition evolves into a call to arms.
“The feeling that we were so close to breaking up gave us the freedom to enjoy each other more, to enjoy making music together,” explained Alsop. This has resulted in a terrific record full of the catchy chord progressions, neat guitar riffs and decisive tempo shifts we’ve been accustomed to from the Canadian band.