Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Happy anniversary to Tokyo Police Club’s ‘Champ’

The album cover for Tokyo Police Club's "Champ" appears. The album was released in 2010 and recently had its 10th anniversary.
The album cover for Tokyo Police Club's "Champ" appears. The album was released in 2010 and recently had its 10th anniversary.

Anniversary editions for albums are strange. If an album is truly masterful, would it need to be re-released, equipped with various outtakes and demos, to recapture attention? If it was truly an undeniably great piece of music it never would’ve left the forefront of many minds, right? Not really.

Streaming services have completely overloaded our brains. Every week, an algorithm gifts me a sparkling new playlist that has four good songs on it. I’ll add them to my library, listen to them for the remainder of the day and then completely forget they exist. The second something leaves my “recently added” tab, it leaves my brain.

That’s why anniversary editions make more sense in the streaming age. There are so many records that I used to have in constant rotation that fell by the wayside, old toys left at the bottom of the bin. Five- and 10-year deluxe editions put me back in touch with beloved songs, with specific moments.

Tokyo Police Club’s “Champ (10 Year Anniversary Deluxe)” teleports me back to the days where I had an asymmetrical bowl cut and music was just walls of sound meant to entertain. As a kid I didn’t think of music as art, as something that could elicit an emotional response. Art was just paintings tacked on an eggshell wall in some pretentious museum. It certainly wasn’t a bunch of songs with big choruses and glitchy synths. 

But the original “Champ” rewired me, opened me up to new avenues.

The 10-year anniversary edition reignited an old flame. Ten years later, this record takes on an entirely new meaning while still managing to sound fresh. 

There’s a resilience baked into each moment of this record, an unwillingness to accept things as they are. Album opener “Favorite Food,” opens like a funeral dirge, a low synth echoing on into the void before sounds bombard the listener from the left and right. 

“With a heart attack on your plate,” vocalist Dave Monks sings. “You were looking back on your days. How you spent them all in a blur.” 

The song lumbers, Monks laments the concept of being past one’s prime, acoustic guitars lazily thrumming along. Midway through the track, the song changes completely. Electric guitars make a grand entrance, percussion picks up. 

Monks bellows, “There’s another girl in another day and your favorite food still tastes the same.” 

There is always another day, and there will always be good things even if it seems like there aren’t. Whatever your favorite food represents, it’ll always be good, no matter the circumstances. It’s always something you can fall back on. 

That same sentiment can also be felt in “Breakneck Speed,” a bombastic synth-rock track. 

Relationships change as you age, and it can be easy to fall into a pit of anxiety, worry that things will never be the same. 

“I remember when our voices used to sound the exact same. Now we just translate,” Monks sings.

Things may not be the same, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be good. Monks chooses to be thankful for the moments he’s given, not spend his time trying to access ones long past. 

“It’s good to be back,” he says as the song winds to a close. 

The album is still incredible, even if the deluxe add-ons leave a little to be desired. Outtakes “Hundred Dollar Day” and “Once I Was the Keeper” are exciting and feel closely related to the original tracks, but the litany of remixes do little to enhance the source material. More demos would’ve been a lot more interesting. 

Listening to a 10-year anniversary version of a record makes me feel old as hell. Sometimes it feels like I should still be listening to this song in the backseat of my parent’s car as they ferry me around. Sometimes it feels like I’m past my prime, that I’d be better off living within memory than trying to forge new ones. But most of the time it’s enough to listen to Monk’s words and be reminded that there’s always a favorite food — like this record —  to fall back on, no matter what. 

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