The story has become the stuff of hipster legend. In 2008, Japandroids were on the brink of split. After two relentless, but seemingly fruitless years of holding DIY gigs in the musically vapid Vancouver, Brian King and David Prowse decided it was time to throw in their sweat, blood and tear-stained towel.
That year, the ‘droids recorded what was meant to be their first and final album, Post-Nothing, a desperate adieu to youth that the duo expected to release and cease to remember. But, in the most deliciously romantic change of circumstances, this swan song (and it really did sound like they were playing as if their life depended on it) would ironically catapult the Japandroids direct into the indie mainstream.
But don’t think for one second success and its subsequent security has caused Japandroids to soft-pedal their sound. Oh no – three years, and one life-threatening perforated ulcer later, and the ‘droids are as urgent as ever on their new album, Celebration Rock.
Yet beneath that now-familiar fuzz vibrates even tighter pop tunes than those found on Post-Nothing, so expect your fist-pumping to come at a harder, better, faster and stronger pace. Clearly, Japandroids have cut their teeth as songwriters over the last three years, and this is evident on sharp tracks like “The Nights Of Wine And Roses,” whose fat drums and frenetic riff rip open the album, “Adrenalin Nightshift,” which may just bust your veins if set too high, and the LP’s simply colossal lead-single, “The House That Heaven Built,” which is surely the ultimate “f*ck it” anthem of 2012:
When they love you, and they will
Tell them all they’ll love in my shadow
And if they try to slow you down
Tell them all to go to hell
Semantically, Post-Nothing‘s arguable desperation makes way for utter jubilation on Celebration Rock. The entire album is a love letter to the past, present and future – bookended by the cackles of celebratory fireworks and stuffed in between with passionate paeans, including the sexually charged “Evil’s Sway,” complete with a festival-ready “Oh yeah! Oh right!” refrain, and the achingly nostalgic “Younger Us,” which suitably sounds like something I would have enjoyed on Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater circa PS1:
Gimme that naked new skin rush
Give me younger us
Gimme that you and me to the grave trust
Give me younger us
It is canny, then, that such a breakneck album wraps up with what is Japandroid’s first quasi-ballad, the beautiful “Continuous Thunder.” Lyrically, the song is equally poignant, emblematic of King and Prowse’s enduring capacity to keep “singing out loud,” hell, screaming at the top of their damn lungs, despite, at times, the odds being ridiculously against their favor. But for now, the fight is over, and the awesome Celebration Rock is the ‘droids drinking to that fact, all the while adversity looks on, defeated, in the faraway distance.
Singing out loud
Like continuous thunder