May 20, 2012

Album Review: Japandroids' Celebration Rock

Japandroids are two dudes who seemingly have yet to reconcile their adulthood and constantly make mention of nostalgia, and that's mostly what distinguishes them in a world where getting older means making music that reflects your age. The Canadian noise pop act confront these conventions by figuratively saying, “Yes, we have responsibilities and know how to take care of our adult selves just fine, but for heaven’s sakes, we’re far from our death beds so let’s not become stagnant and boring.” Interestingly enough, this has far been the reality of the Japandroids story, as their sophomore album Celebration Rock almost didn't happen at all. Stereogum recently spoke with the band about their newest effort where the duo revealed they had pretty much come to terms with ending the project well before their acclaimed 2009 breakthrough debut Post-Nothing had even arrived. Citing personal turmoils, the lack of a game plan and a love of touring being their only real motivation to make music, the behind-the-scenes story makes some sense out of the Vancouver rockers chaotic, urgent sound. All of these issues have obviously since been addressed, Japandroids lives on and the end result is Celebration Rock, a full realization of Brian King and David Prowse's commitment to living life carefree.

Among the other particularly curious anecdotes in Japandroids' Stereogum tell-all was the confession that neither King or Prowse necessarily consider themselves songwriters. It's a humble statement to make when you look at how emotionally embedded their music is with its lyrics and in turn, has struck a serious nerve with age-defying listeners who live for lines tailor made for tweets and Status Updates. "Young Hearts Spark Fire" was Post-Nothing's ultimate posi scene moment thanks to a heavy helping of sun-soaked, adrenaline-pumped pop punk with a near perfect hook to bat. Multiplying that feeling of invincibility by the tenfold gives the guitar and drum duo's tried and true formula of muddy production, blaring amps and fountain of youth anthemry a second wind here on Celebration Rock, and this time, they give listeners more than one go at it. "The Nights of Wine and Roses" is a ripping start to soundtrack Japandroids' seemingly endless party, "Fire's Highway" is the ticket out of town paid for by dreams, the fantastic 2010 single "Younger Us" harps nostalgic to picturesque late nights of youth while "The House That Heaven Built"'s exhilaration dares you to live however you please. It's not until the album's closer "Continuous Thunder" where King finally lays off assailing guitar riffs, clearing the way for Prowse's steel drums to billow their way through a saccharine love song that ends the LP with a kind of perfect soft climax despite the burning rush before it.

Celebration Rock is a near-seamless next step from where Japandroids left off three years ago on Post-Nothing, but their re-dedication to the band since has done more than just spark their young hearts afire -- It's fully engulfed the fuzz punk duo's sound with an unstoppable momentum. As carefree their approach to songwriting may be, the emotionally-charged connection a Japandroids song can create is indescribably electric -- A rare gift not forced or over-thought, but feelings that simply put, are real. Witnessing these songs being played live is Japandroids' ultimate end game, but their extended invitation on Celebration Rock guarantees one of the best and most life-affirming nights of your life.

Japandroids' Celebration Rock will be released June 5, 2012 on Polyvinyl Records.

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