Elephant Shell

Author: Jim Scott
04/01/2008 | Under The Radar | | Album Review
There's a scene in Mel Gibson's pre-insanity film Braveheart where he shows up to the Battle of Stirling and has to convince the men of Scotland that he is indeed William Wallace. "And if hwe were here," Gibson/Wallace says, "he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lighting from his arse." And the men laugh at their own ridiculous expectations, and are convinced he is, in fact, William Wallace. So it goes with Tokyo Police Club, who arrive with so much buzz and publicity in front of them that listening to Elephant Shell, the first reaction is similar to that of the Scottish soldiers: "That's it?"

Obviously, this is not the band's doing, and any expectation that they shoot lightning bolts from their respective arses is unfair, but still, getting past the hype is difficult. Even though Wallace has outsized hopes placed upon him, he was still a total badass (at least in the movie) and seemed to kill at least a soccer stadium's worth of Englishmen. Tokyo Police Club are not badass. They are a fine indie rock band in the Death Cab for Cutie mold, but lead singer David Monks is no Ben Gibbard with a pen (even though he's a clear vocal descendent), and for those who think DCFC's songs all sound the same, cover your ears.

Tokyo Police Club have their moments. "Your English Is Good" has some pleasant barroom hop. "In A Cave" brings some of Monks' finest vocals, and the excellent lines, "All my hair grows in/Wrinkles leave my skin," set against Josh Hooks' tight little guitar riff. Through, the percussion, led by Greg Alsop, is tight if perhaps single-minded.

Tokyo Police Club could be headed for big time sales; Elephant Shell is very appealing in a middle-of-the-road way, but for those hoping to be electrified, we'll have to wait on another arse.

5/10 Blips.
Elephant Shell

Elephant Shell

LP / CD / MP3