Tokyo Police Club's Champ is somehow weak because it is so well-constructed

How can an album be weak because it’s so well-made? It’s kind of weird to wrap your mind around, but Tokyo Police Club’s Champ manages it. The guitar riffs are appropriately angular, but the production is slick. The vocals — from Dave Monks’ drawl to the slightly hidden background chants that occasionally pop up — fit the tone of the songs perfectly. Everything seems precisely engineered to expand Tokyo Police Club’s influence in the bouncy indie-pop sector.

But somewhere in the immaculate production, the songs lose their long-term sting. While the recurring guitar motif in “Big Difference” is delightful, it sizzles out of your memory as soon as the next track starts. The songs bleed together. They’re bite-sized candies: quick, sweet tunes that are forgotten as soon as they end.

So it’s hard to pick out standout tracks, or even poor tracks. Everything accomplishes about the same thing. As neat as the slow buildup in the opener “Favourite Food” is, or as grin-inducing as the start-stop chorus of next track “Favourite Colour” is, it really doesn’t matter. I had to go back and look at the names of those two songs just to remember what they were called, even though they were both standouts and pretty much have the same name. Every song is another piece to the Champ puzzle. It fits, sure, but it’s not terribly exciting.

Tokyo Police Club – “Favourite Colour” [MP3]

Tokyo Police Club – “Big Difference” [MP3]

Purchase Champ here.

3 comments to Tokyo Police Club’s Champ is somehow weak because it is so well-constructed

  • Sorry buddy, I get what you’re going for, but I disagree. This album is great. While this review mainly airs complaints about a too constricted or repetitious vibe, I’d say the album is a perfect mix between loose and tight. Look at one obvious stand out track, “Not Sick.” With supplementary electronic instrumentation and a cutting beat, it certainly contains some jauntiness. On the otherhand, with Dave Monks yelping, Canadian accent still present, “get unfrustrated!” and other abstract lyrics, it still feels limber. And as far as diversity (while still managing a cohesive mood throughout), the tracks differ drastically. The sweet reverb of “End of a Spark” is poles from the synth heavy, hand claps of “Bambi.” I’ve heard this argument before, of albums too nicely packaged to feel free (a review of White Rabbits last disc from those haters over at pitchfork comes to mind), but really, this is just a misinterpretation of Champ’s “champness.” It’s a fun, positive, entertaining record. Fantastic for the upcoming summer. As the album closer points out they’ve “learned to celebrate,” and craft no-fat indie pop songs, “but that’s [their] only crime.” And don’t you mistake it.

  • guitarchestra

    what i weak review.
    there isnt really a point of view.
    you dislike it by default because you cant find anything to really say about it.
    next time, write the review after you listened to it a couple of times and actually have an opinion instead of a deadline.

    Jamie Reply:

    Now, now let’s not go making poorly-typed comments we can’t take back. Last I checked, calling an album “weak” is absolutely an opinion. Although I don’t 100 percent agree with Jon on this one, I do think that people can get sucked into clean, slick songs and forget that critically “good” albums are typically a little more inspired and offer more than just nice-sounding music. That’s not to say critics are always right or that the album is bad because of this, but it is certainly grounds to call it weak.

    But I guess you know what Jon was thinking and doing better than he did, so.