Sunday, 20 May 2012

Japandroids - Celebration Rock


Japandroids are part of the Canadian buzz that seems to of spread global in the past decade. The noise pop/garage rock duo creates loud rock music for a audiences of many to enjoy. 2009's Post-Nothing laid down the foundations for a bright and prominent career. Post-Nothing has eight tracks of noise rock with pop undertones; much like The Jesus & Mary Chain did 20 years ago. Japandroids are in a completely different league, beyond the distortion and beyond the poppy hooks. This music is fun, and one listen to 'Young Hearts Spark Fine' will win you over. It doesn’t come as a surprise that three years on, Japandroids are still touring intimate venues, still signed to Polyvinyl, and set to release their second studio album, Celebration Rock.

The album opens with 'The Nights of Wine and Roses', a thumping four minutes of soaring guitars, loud cymbals and chunky vocals that are enough to get you dancing in your chair, thumping the air in joy. I must note the crackling 'firework' styled opening which takes resemblance to 2010's Fang Island self-titled album. Japandroids have set out to release an album which is energetic and fun, for the listener. Vocal cheers of "Hey!!" / "Oh ohhh oh" plague the track, in what would be an epic sing-along for the close audience. The production sounds fantastic, working with Jesse Gander for the second time. The compact sound doesn’t stop here. The following track 'Fire's Highway' rips through with an astonishing guitar riff with their characteristic distortion. Japandroids have the skill to create loud, abrasive tracks, and include one of the sweetest vocal segments and chorus you'll hear all year. The vocals sound impeccable and the following 'crowd cheers' (as I'll give reclamation to) astounding to hear. It's fresh and the song structure just raises the bar completely. At 3:30 in, you will hear guitarist/vocalist Brian King takes the breakdown with just his guitar and his voice, singing "A northern soul in southern lands, will always find his way to southern hands." / "So kiss away your gypsy fears, and turn some restless nights to restless years."

Japandroids have an inability to slip under the 'one trick pony' category because of their skillful ability to create dynamic tracks that are both as noisy as they come, and as sweet and sensible as a Foo Fighters track. This album can be accused of sounding 'the same', but I don't feel that when listening to this album. It's why 'Evil's Sway' carries a catastrophic sound of thunder, lightning and rain. The crashing guitar riff never fails to surprise, with exciting layers which work miraculously well with the cymbal smashes and heavy drumming. The lack of bass is almost forgotten because the drums are so heavy, and the guitar is low. Evils Sway has a perplex chorus which has the aforementioned crowd cheers, "oh yeah" / "oh right." I must say, Japandroids can’t be faulted this far into Celebration Rock. Three very strong tracks with energy, great lyricism and song structures enough to make Simon Cowell jealous.

The next track pays homage to one of Japandroids biggest punk influences, The Gun Club. Covering one of their most known tracks 'For The Love Of Ivy'. Sitting half way on the album, this track brings to light the heavy and punk side of Japandroids, with withdrawn distorted vocals and very contagious guitar work. This is an excellent cover with exceptional drumming by David Prowse. The fierce 'Adrenaline Nightshift' has a standard Japandroids sound, with predictable chord progressions. I can't be too negative because the guitar sound is again, fantastic, with even louder and abrasive drumming this time round. This track is where Japandroids step further away from that instrumental, noise duo, to a band with lyrics. And what a track this is, "Hitchhike to hell and back, riding the wind." / "When the thunder of the poets, thunder of the poets guitar." / "Bein nice to my body so I can drunk at the back of a bar." Brian King has certainly added the extra spice of lyricism into his music, among the crowd pleasing choruses and chaotic punk sound. The track name does nothing but good, with Adrenaline Nightshift sounding like something out of Need For Speed Underground.

It’s fair to say that Celebration Rock is an album that captures the listener and in turn, becomes one of the strongest albums of the year. 'Younger Us' was released as a single in 2010, losing brownie points for its inclusion on this album two years later. Nonetheless, it’s an amazing track. The chords guitar riff is exciting and the song structure become unpredictable with the rhythms and manic drum patterns. The third and final part to this track is incredible, creating a real connection between the duo and the audience. Lyrics such as "Gimme that naked new skin rush, give me younger us." / "Gimme that girl’s love running wild and free, give me younger us." With audiences screaming back 'give me younger us'. This is the shortest track on the album, and by the most poppy. There’s just a never-ending amount of energy and passion put into Celebration Rock, and it only gets better.

"It's a lifeless life, with no fixed address to give. But you're not mine to die for anymore, so I must live." There’s a clear lyrical presence on the lead single 'The House That Heaven Built'. Among the harmonic "Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh", comes the exciting chorus and imaginative verses that paint a raw picture of doom and gloom. The instrumentation is outstanding, with a very eerie vocal which has hints of desperation and energy, with the powerful guitar riff. It's crazy to think, underneath this track of fierce guitar work and sharp vocals, is a verse/chorus/verse structure with pop undertones. This is spectacular to hear, and anybody who's seen Japandroids will agree, this is spectacular to see. It definitely doesn’t eclipse there. The listener has been put through tracks of nostalgia, noise, pop and post-post-nothing material - awaiting the final climax. 'Continuous Thunder' doesn’t disappoint. The relaxed vocal is mellow and uplifting, with severe style. The drums gain momentum and the layers of guitar come into focus as the self-titled refrain steers the track out of the dark and back into the light. The drumming increases vigorously, as the recording seems to fade away from the band, turns around, walks outside... And cue the fireworks.

Post-Nothing was an excellent album which was both raw and smooth. Japandroids followed with an album of refined material for a bigger audience. These eight tracks are designed to be play loud, or live. Sure, Celebration Rock has its weak points, and I'm sure Japandroids know that themselves. But this album is exactly what it's supposed to be, fun music for fans of Japandroids to enjoy and sing along to. Japandroids have achieved their goal. This album is both a celebration, and a piece of rock music. Celebration Rock is a strong contender for album of the year, and is by far the most exciting punk related release of 2012.
~Eddie

8.9

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