By David Rolland
By David Von Bader
By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
In the Nineties, when the masses bought CDs by the millions in places called "record stores," releasing an EP as your debut was the kiss of death. It was proof that the person at the record label who signed the band had been fired for stealing the boss's blow, and that his replacement was going out of his way to prove to the cokehead-in-chief:Of course they should be dropped; they didn't even have 10 songs good enough for us.
Times have changed, and Toronto indie pop act Tokyo Police Club is the proof in the figgy pudding. Its 2006 EP, the seven-song A Life of Crime, propelled the bandmates' four skinny white butts to the pinnacle of new-New Wave hipsterism worldwide. With the average song clocking in at a Ramones-like two minutes, and hooks coming and going like a Don Juan in Ghost World, the group enjoyed an arrival that was lauded by music press and art school dorm denizens worldwide. Finally there was a band that was like The Cure but had songs short enough to hold a 21st-century attention span. Tokyo Police Club became perhaps the only band to be praised by Entertainment Weekly and Pitchfork simultaneously.
Helping them along was their Canadian heritage, which — owing to the CAN-CON radio rules designed to protect Canadian artists from the horde south of the border — demands that every decent (and horrible) pop-friendly native act gets spins on mainstream radio. Suddenly the four kids who picked up instruments in their senior year of high school were winning music video awards at home, and winning hearts and minds tens of thousands at a time overseas at Glastonbury and domestically at Coachella.
With the amazing success those first seven songs brought, it's somewhat puzzling why Saddle Creek, Tokyo Police Club's new label and home to Connor Oberst, is sitting on the band's debut full-length, Elephant Shell. Despite the release date being less than a month away, and the group already debuting the material at SXSW and half the United States, review copies have not been released. Is it because Saddle Creek is afraid first-week hipster buyers won't buy an album comprising what the bandmates promise to be longer songs? Or is it because they are the proverbial Dutch boys putting their finger in the dike to hold off the flood of illegal downloads? Go put on your tightest pants and head to Studio A to find out.