Champ has been one of the most pleasant surprises this year so far. I’d never heard of Tokyo Police Club before, and picked up the album on recommendation from a Barnes and Noble salesmen because I was feeling adventurous. I’m really glad I did, because this album quickly became one of my favorites so far.

A little overloaded on ensemble productions (Broken Social Scene, New Pornographers, Cloud Cult) at the moment, the simplicity of the music was a welcome reprieve. Which is not to say the sound is flat or boring, but just straightforward. It packs quite a bit of punch in some places, and the fast-paced songs snag your attention and don’t let go until the album closes. Not a single track is wasted as filler, and even among the best records that is not guaranteed.

So true is this about Champ that I really had a hard time picking two songs to share with you. The first that I have to throw out there is ‘Favourite Colour‘.

      Favourite Colour - Tokyo Police Club

No single song has gotten stuck in my head this summer like this one has. The guitar line on the refrain is just bold enough that you respect it, but not so huge that it comes off as tacky. The lyrics tell a pretty cohesive story, and contain a fantastic set of lines,

Tell me what’s
Tell me what’s your favorite color
Tell me your favorite color
Tell me how’s
Tell me how’s your younger brother
How’s your younger brother?
Tell me what’s the first
Very first record you owned
’cause I’ve got no plans if you don’t
No plans if you don’t

‘Breakneck Speed’ is a solid bridge to the frenetic ‘Wait Up (Boots of Danger)‘. I’m going to cheat a little and include the music video in leiu of an mp3 because the dogs in it are adorable, and the tune fantastic:

Despite an explosive first half of a record, my favorite track is square in the middle, titled ‘End of a Spark‘. The guitar hook is sharp and catchy, and Monks’s vocals are at their best, most emphatic, when paired with this particular tune’s lyrics. The stripped down bridge before a powerful finish is what I liked best.

      End of a Spark - Tokyo Police Club

The latter half slows a bit, with songs like ‘Gone’ having a bit more texture to them. ‘Big Difference’ and ‘Not Sick’ are the quintessential “big finale” tracks, holding nothing back (the “so wha’d’ya need!” on ‘Not Sick’ is a high point) and in general leaving the listener really satisfied.

An incredibly compact and succinct record, Champ hits its stride from the first note, and there’s hardly a misstep until the last. Its stand-out tracks fit seamlessly into the album for a full 35 minutes of some of the best garage rock I’ve heard in a long time.

Tokyo Police Club – Champ