EPs have to be evaluated on a different scale than full-length records. If it comes mid-career, an EP should show a different side of a group or make the transition between records smoother. But an EP that comes before a debut record has entirely different goals. First, it should be a tight set of songs that displays the group’s talent and range. Second, it should have room for growth while still displaying the potential to follow through. EPs are hardly ever essential, but they’re almost always an indication of whether or not there are better things to come.
With Tokyo Police Club, the future looks rosy, indeed. High-energy rock ‘n’ roll that never seems regular without straying too far from the lines is the order of the day, and A Lesson in Crime delivers. Glowing praise was inevitable, and hailing from Canada couldn’t have hurt the strong buzz among the indie blogs. But despite the band’s superficial similarities to the Arcade Fire, these guys are from Toronto, not Montreal, and their lead singer, Dave Monks, is a much more conventionally powerful frontman than Win Butler. In fact, on opener “Cheer It On,” which appears to be the band’s theme song, Monks comes off more like Julian Casablancas than any of his fellow indie Canadians. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a steady Strokes-like guitar hook chugging along next to him.
Not to say this is Strokes territory. The record lacks any removed cool, but instead displays incendiary passion to spare. Every track is as strong as the one before, and its sixteen minutes races by. This is by no means a free pass for a band that still needs a lot of time to develop into a great band. But if the members can string together enough ambition and variation into a solid debut, the promise of this EP might just be fulfilled.