By now, maybe the backlash against Tokyo Police Club has abated. Sure, the Canadian quartet's much-hyped A Lesson In Crime EP sounds like a teenage Strokes tousling their sound with zippy synths and mod touches, but it doesn't set out to be anything more than upbeat fun. There's a marauding robot, after all, on the record's cover and in "Citizens of Tomorrow," a dystopian tale in which limbs go flying.
The EP crams seven songs into 16 minutes and smart lyrics into jittery rave-ups: "Do your neighbor a favor/Collect their morning paper/Clip out all the sad bits/No one wants to read them/Let them take their kids to school and the zoo in peace." That's vocalist/bassist Dave Monks on "Cheer It On." On later single "Your English Is Good," he leads the cheer with "Give us your vote/If you know what's good for you" before the hook kicks in. Since when have the Strokes had lyrics that pleasing?
Speaking of which, Tokyo Police Club's new Smith EP should put those comparisons to rest. There's more swagger and less pep than its predecessor, and Monks' lyrics are easier to make out. "Box" is a noisy kiss-off, "Cut Cut Paste" is tense with cagey garage vigor, and "A Lesson In Crime" is a complete U-turn, a spare piano ballad lasting three and a half minutes. Besides making for a surprise departure, it clears the air before a crackling, hyperactive remix of Crime track "Be Good" closes the EP.
Tokyo Police Club are now signed to Saddle Creek here in the U.S., which should bring more people around to their hot-wired, smart-alecky songs. And when their first album is released next year, we'll see whether they stick to curt stabs of punky pop, or slow things down like they do briefly on Smith. Either way, they'll be fighting haters all the way.
Tokyo Police Club perform with White Rabbit and the Virgins at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (714) 647-7704; www.theglasshouse.us. Wed., 7 p.m. $12-$14.
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