In what was possibly the coolest conversation of all time, Johnny Ramone once boasted to Joe Strummer that his band’s live set was two minutes quicker than it had been one year previous. For this pair of punk-rock fundamentalists it was self-evidently a good thing to keep things brief (a first principle Strummer presumably forgot before making Sandanista). This debut from Toronto four-piece Tokyo Police Club weighs in at an impressively short eighteen minutes. They get it. There’re few albums that wouldn’t be vastly improved if edited down to eighteen minutes.
At times they sound so much like The Strokes it’s funny. Crucially, like The Strokes before Nick ‘Santana’ Valensi came over all “guys, why don’t we put in a bit more of this?” And anyway, as a band who clearly like to mix it up, they throw in healthy amounts of Interpol-bass and Walkmen-synths. Blatantly derivative, but hey who cares when it’s good?
David Monks’ lyrics are unfortunately a bit comic-book-geek. There’s lots of talk of robots, spaceships, and computers ruling the planet. “Citizens of tomorrow be forewarned,” he sings, at one point, like a kind of emo Aldous Huxley. A lesser correspondent might here start throwing around such phrases as “our troubled times” and “post 9/11,” but I’ll leave that to those who enjoy the school-playground-Chomsky of Kele Okereke and Thom Yorke.
A Lesson in Crime remains, despite its shortcomings, a ballsy record scythed from all the right sections of the pop-punk textbook. And it’s excellently short.
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