Ten years since the formation of Tokyo Police Club, frontman Dave Monks has broken off for his first solo side effort. But after a decade of operating as part of a four-piece act, will Dave’s first foray into solitude yield positive results?
As the album title suggests, the short answer is yes. Tokyo Police Club is a band that capitalizes on fast drumming, effects-driven guitar parts, heavy bass and delicious synth lines. But Dave has always held a soft spot for more mellowed out and acoustic sounds; In recent years, Monks has ended TPC sets by hopping back on stage alone and playing acoustic versions of some of their older tracks. In retrospect, it’s no surprise then that All Signs Point to Yes is a smaller scale, unplugged and acoustic driven album.
All Signs Point to Yes delivers catchy melodies and a handful of sweet instrumental moments, from the delicate piano line on “Gasoline” to the excellent use of french horn on “The Rules.” Typically, artists that triumph most from these rawer albums are the ones with sweeping, powerful sets of pipes. Dave Monks’ voice has never been the highlight of his work, but he gets away with the lack of a traditional “powerful frontman” voice in exchange for one filled with intimacy, fragility, and uniqueness.
If the theme of the album’s instrumentation is rawness, then this applies to the lyrics, too. On All Signs Point to Yes, Monks replaces his usual handful of metaphors and allusions with honest truths and confessions. Compare, for instance, 2008’s “In a Cave,” in which Monks mysteriously recites, “Elephant Shell, You’re my cave and I’ve been hiding out,” with the album’s third track, “The Rules,” where Dave tries to console a heartbroken friend, suggesting, “Listen Michelle, he may never come back. But why do you care? You’re a beautiful girl.” Neither style of songwriting is necessarily better than the other, but it’s nice to have Dave shake things up a bit.
Overall All Signs Points to Yes won’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s the most exciting and freshest set of songs any of the Tokyo Police Club fellas have put out in years. Granted, the odds are you’d have to be either a fan of the band or of acoustic music to enjoy the album, but if you fall under either of those camps then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. This new spin Monks’ music takes absolutely boosts his street cred among artist hailing from the Greater Toronto Area.
Recommended Listening: “The Rules” & “Gasoline”