Well, not every album is some sort of important cultural touchstone or harbinger of my past romantic attachments. This one is just kinda (and I stress kinda) a disappointment. Let me count the ways:
1. Nothing sticks. There’s nothing special. No great hooks, no memorable melodies, nothing to think about. It’s again very short (about 32 minutes). Look, the first two EPs were great, filled with a new sound, a gleefully youthful imaginationing of something sci-fi that was hard to pinpoint but delightful nonetheless. Then the LP came out and it was a bunch of singles amongst a bunch of filler (not that it was intentional filler, but still, the successful songs were even produced differently – someone knew what was a-gwon). Now we have this second LP, and the singles are gone. Imagine the last album with no “Tesselate” or “Juno” or “In A Cave” or even “Nursery, Academy.” “Centennial” sounds pretty good now, doesn’t it?
The two-minute intro to the first song, a slow, amusing something is the best thing here, and of course it jumps into their usual spacey, Television-y guitar whirlings before long. At least it’s their longest song ever, at not quite four minutes! There’s only one really memorable vocal hook, and it’s on the otherwise forgettable “Wait Up (Boots Of Danger),” no doubt slated for singledom. Two songs have a atypical guitar tones (imore alt-rock than usual), but one is otherwise forgettable and the other is “kinda Tom Petty. eh.” Whee! My notes are filled with comments like “pleasant, but same problems” or “not bad, kinda neat starts and stops” or “the softer one – vocal hooks but minor ones.” Those are actually some of the more expressive of my notes, too! Three of the eleven songs on here I thought of literally nothing to say other that “?” Song started and ended at some point, isn’t that exciting and now something else is playing. Oh, and all the lyrics are decent sounding vagueness that aren’t exciting enough to parse. Something about somewhat young people and somesuch.
I mean, only one song actively bothers me, and that’s “Not Sick,” because it makes up the word “unfrustrated” without justifying why they’d do that, and it sounds like it desperately wants to be on MTV – and these guys ARE on MTV, but I wonder how long they’ll stay there. MTV is fickle, and I don’t resent it for that – it’s the way it has to be for business. But that means that throwing in your lot in staying there is necessarily a losing bet sooner rather than later. There can never be a later enough, but soon comes quickly. Back in the day these guys were superyoung and superfun, now they’re grown more mature, but without any of the stuff that makes maturity worthwhile, like legitimate insight or existential worry. This certainly isn’t a bad album – “Hands Reversed” (the slow one) is nice, “End of a Spark” is sad too, as mentioned “Favourite Food” (the first one) has a neat build-up. But there’s nothing great to hang one’s heads on anymore. I feel like a bad person for saying as much, being an unsolicited reviewer and all, but I hope it’s just a phase and these Tokyo Policemen either get back to being fun or get more out of their twenty-something-dom. Either that or they might literally be looking for jobs as policemen in Tokyo before long. Zing!
Oh, now I feel guilty again.