If you’ve been waiting for the 90s to make a comeback, or simply feel stuck in a purgatorial vortex of nostalgia and righteous angst in the current political climate — listen up.
The fourth album from Japandroids, dubbed Near to the Wild Heart of Life, is everything you miss from the heyday of punk — right when it was on the precipice of pop pandering, but before it fell into spineless irrelevance. Evocative without condescension, sentimental without being trite, it’s the best of what was forfeited when our calendars hit the year 2000: [LISTEN; “Near to the Wild Heart of Life“]
This album is catchy without the bubblegum. Agreeable without being soft. You can almost feel your adolescent fist riding skyward on its tidal wave of unapologetic resolve. Employing a subtle array of electronic and amplified sound, Japandroids create a sonic landscape that’s far from antiquated or passe, but speaks lyrically to both their revolutionary heritage and progressivism: [LISTEN; “True Love and a Free Life of Free Will“]
Rather than simply invoking a lost arsenal of rebelliousness, Japandroids bed down with an evolved kind of irreverence that speaks to their maturity, and their unwillingness to grow old, if not up. While it’s probably not the soundtrack to the next revolution, it’s certainly well-suited for those afternoon reveries when all the old records are played out, but you still want to kindle the old flame of defiance; [LISTEN; “No Known Drink or Drug“]
When it comes down to it, there’s nothing spectacularly original about this release. But the word “derivative” would rob it of the honesty with which Japandroids created it. Somewhere between pop-goddery and humanistic punk, Near to the Wild Heart of Life is an album made for tracing the fading lines of anarchist graffiti along deserted streets. And if you’re the type to wave a flag even when nobody is watching, this album is probably right up that apocalyptic alley of yours.