Tokyo Police Club: punk rock sound with dance twist

By Andrew Parquette

Tokyo Police Club deliver punk rock sound mixed with keyboard and strong bass lines, bringing a fresh sound to the mainstream music scene.

Many leading music magazines have christianed the band “the next big thing.”

Although their debut album, “A Lesson in Crime,” was released in 2005, it has recently scored rave reviews from Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine, who wrote last year: “They [Tokyo Police Club] have everything to do with Buzzcocks-style velocity and Strokes-style guitar hooks, without slowing down for a breath.”

Tokyo Police Club began in a Canadian suburb, and the group has since charted a quick path to stardom, from small venues in Toronto to international tours.

The punk band, comprising drummer Greg Alsop, guitarist Josh Hook, bassist and vocalist Dave Monks and keyboard and vocalist Graham Wright, is from Newmarket, Ontario. They initially convened in 2004 in Hook’s basement. The guys set up their instruments and started making music. After building a fanbase through their live shows, Tokyo Police Club landed a contract with Paperbag Records in January 2005, according to the band’s publicist.

With seven two-minute tracks, “A Lesson in Crime” features a brief 14 minutes of music. With the variety of fast and slow songs, the listener has a chance to experience both ends of the emotional spectrum.

Each track has a different rhythm and mood, but they all have the same electronically jumpy, punk sound. With vocals similar to The Strokes and thumping bass lines not unlike Hot Hot Heat, Tokyo Police Club presents a darker, more electro-punk incarnation of hellogoodbye and Louis XIV.

The album offers a variety of styles, with a different-sounding mix of relaxed and upbeat tracks.

They kick it off with, “Cheer It On,” a punky tune that makes you want to smack your bubble gum and stomp your Chucks. It’s a solid basic for a punk album: shout-outs to their own band name (“When you’re standing near, Tokyo Police Club”), crazy guitar chords and funky keyboard ringing in the ear.

“Cheer It On” is followed by “Nature of the Experiment,” Tokyo Police Club’s most famous tune. It features the lyrics, “We’ve got our tracks covered thanks to your older brother,” in homage to the deadbeat club and garage phase most rock bands go through.

In “Citizens of Tomorrow,” the band sings about “our robot masters” and says “that’s what it’s like in 2009.” Probably the most important track on “A Lesson in Crime,” it presents the underlying theme for the album: a prophetic, “not ready for this world” message. This track conveys this idea clearly, wrapped in a mysteriously intoxicating beat with underlying voices and chilling guitar chords.

The album closes with “La Ferassie” winding it down into a serene smoky ending, with a bit of punk flare for album consistency. Vocals come on after 20 seconds of slow, relaxed drums, whispering into the speakers: “Don’t forget to write. Don’t forget to write. They buried me in southwest France La Ferrassie. You know I am.” These are interesting lyrics considering the actual La Ferassie is a cave in France where eight Neanderthal skeletons were found to be have been buried for more than 70,000 years.

The album title seems to hint at the possibility of chaos in the near future. The boys of Tokyo Police Club want their audience to believe they know more than them, and that this album is a crystal ball into the future of punk music.

They bring something new to the music scene and, it seems, will be around for quite a while.

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