Sound: Champ is Tokyo Police Club's follow up LP to 2008's Elephant Shell and they pick up right where they left off. The first track "Favorite Food" begins with some subdued keyboard and acoustic parts but by the middle of the song the rest of the band kicks in and from there on it's the standard Tokyo Police Club we know and love. The majority of this album does not stray too much from the high energy, catchy, danceable songs that worked so well on Elephant Shell and A Lesson In Crime. Their formula works well on Champ too but where the album seems lacking is in its variety. It would have been nice of some acoustic tracks had been included. Before the release of Champ Tokyo Police Club posted "Hands Reversed" on youtube as an acoustic song which I thought worked a lot better than the version that made it to the album.
The most noticeable aspect about the album is the length of the songs. Tokyo Police Club is known for their short punchy songs which always left the listener wanting more, well the shortest song on Champ is "Favorite Colour" clocking in at 2:38. Most of the songs are around 3:30, they flow very well and don't seem needlessly stretched out at all. I was also pleasantly surprised with the bigger role that Josh's guitar playing plays especially on songs like "Big Difference". They also do a good job at maintaining a good balance between the keyboards and guitars. // 8
Lyrics: I have to hand it to Dave Monks, he is an incredibly talented writer. He has a great style of writing lyrics that are at times nonsensical, ambiguous and childlike but at other times the lyrics are extremely heartfelt and serious. "Breakneck Speed" is an example of the ambiguity which leaves the listener wondering if being a teen was great or if it was the exact opposite. The only way I can describe the writing is like having a conversation with a good friend.
Dave sounds friendly and lighthearted on tracks like "Favorite Colour" and "Boots Of Danger" but proves that he can be serious too. On songs like "Hands Reversed" and "Favorite Food" things slow down a little bit. "Favorite Food", like "Listen To The Math" from Elephant Shell, is written and sung with such conviction that it proves that these guys can handle not just lighthearted subjects but also heavier stuff. Champ also shows Dave taking a few more risks singing lower and higher than in previous albums. // 9
Overall Impression: It doesn't seem like TPC tried anything new in making Champ which is not necessarily a bad thing. The biggest difference with this album is the band's overall progression and maturity, Dave's singing in particular, and the length of the songs. They are definitely comfortable with what works for them and aside from the lack of variety this is a solid album. It's hard to pick songs that stand out because every song stands out in its own right. The only way to describe this album is that it's a fun listen. The guys from TPC maintain their fun, almost innocent style of indie pop with Champ. // 8