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Tokyo Police Club Slows The Pace With 'Champ'

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Tokyo Police Club Slows The Pace With 'Champ'

Tokyo Police Club Slows The Pace With 'Champ'

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Tokyo Police Club is the name of a young rock band out of Toronto. They recently released their second full-length album called "Champ." It is slower than the group's earlier releases, and our critic, Robert Christgau, thinks the more thoughtful pace is a good thing.

ROBERT CHRISTGAU: When I glommed on to Tokyo Police Club's debut EP in 2006, all I knew about them was that they were four teenage guys from Toronto who kept their tempos up and their track lengths down.

So I was pleased to learn not that they were inspired to start a band by a 2001 Radiohead concert, that's a clich´┐Ż, but that unlike their musically schooled exemplars, none of them could play an instrument back then. Here's how they started off that EP, a little crude, but notice the cycling guitar riff.

(Soundbite of music)

TOKYO POLICE CLUB (Music Group): (Singing) (Unintelligible).

CHRISTGAU: I believe in self-taught musicians because I believe they're more likely to arrive at the essential pop amalgam of simplicity, originality and organic growth.

Sure enough, two years later, Tokyo Police Club had slowed down a little and turned inward a lot on an album called "Elephant Shell" that crammed 11 songs into 28 minutes. That's still pretty fast. So it's noteworthy that its new album, "Champ," which brings the same number of songs up to 34 minutes, announces itself with "Favourite Food," a song about old age that really takes its time.

(Soundbite of song, "Favourite Food")

TOKYO POLICE CLUB: (Singing) With a heart attack on your plates, you were looking back on your days, how you spend them all in a blur when they ask if you (unintelligible) Let the sugar melt down your throat because you know it's sweet getting old. With a lollipop and a rose, let the hospital be your home.

CHRISTGAU: As it turns out, nothing that follows "Favourite Food" is quite as leisurely or explicit. But the song is a turn signal, a statement of purpose.

Although "Champ's" lyrics aren't altogether straightforward, they consistently evoke a coherent mood suitable to the intelligent young up-and-comers Tokyo Police Club now are. Even the song called "Breakneck Speed" maintains a pointedly medium tempo.

(Soundbite of song, "Breakneck Speed")

TOKYO POLICE CLUB: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

CHRISTGAU: Bands that start out short, fast and hard are generally guitar-dominated. In Tokyo Police Club, however, Graham White's keyboard is the dominant instrument, and bassist David Monks sings lead. Between them, they sketch out a world in which, and I quote, we stay up as late as we like and wasting is an art.

Granted, on one called "Bambi," Monks sounds as if he hasn't quite mastered the art of wasting yet. But you assume he'll have outgrown that problem by the time Tokyo Police Club releases its next album, which, at the thoughtful pace theyve established, should be sometime in 2012.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: The new album from Tokyo Police Club is called "Champ." Our reviewer is Robert Christgau.

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