(Originally posted to Tympanogram on June 12, 2012)
When a band sort of falls off the radar for a little bit it’s natural to feel worried. In today’s musical climate a band only stays relevant for as long as they can pump out song after song and album after album. It’s even more worrisome when a band like Japandroids – a band so exciting, energetic, and original, and with such a talent for writing catchy, shout-along choruses – seems to be puttering to a standstill. The Vancouver pair seemed to be disappearing into memories, stretching themselves thin touring 475 days a year, and leaving us hanging with spare singles and cover songs to tide us over.
The problem with such an approach is that the expectation for something truly epic, something that will exceed all previous efforts increases exponentially. And this is the part of the post where I let you know what you are hoping: they have.
On Celebration Rock Brian King’s voice is a little bit more crackly and weather-worn, no doubt the result of all of the aforementioned touring, but all of the energy and shouts are still there; not only are they still there, they are surprisingly better, more earnest, and more filled with joy. After Post-Nothing I think we all figured that it was safe to assume that there was no way this band could continue on in the same manner. In order to remain relevant, they would have to try to do something different, branch out, and add things to their sound. Well, here’s Japandroids proving us wrong.
Celebration Rock is comprised of 8 songs that fly by in a frenzy, never letting up for a second. The album opens and closes with the sound of fireworks, and every song is propelled forward like it’s been shot out of a cannon. The steady drumbeat of “The Nights of Wine and Roses” fades in, and King can hardly contain his excitement as the guitar enters the mix, swaying a bit against David Prowse’s solid backbeat. Things pick up from there, building until the bottom suddenly falls out, and the pair’s most jubilant string of interjections is extended over the following thirty seconds.
Usually I would say that a good album needs to have a shape to it – the ups, the downs, the entire emotional landscape, you know. Albums need to take us on a journey and allow us to get lost as listeners. But with Celebration Rock, there is absolutely no room for complaint. Japandroids is rocking harder than ever before; they are clearly excited by their music, and they are unapologetic for it. Every single song is comprised of hooks that seem so effortlessly strung together. Between the energy, the hooks, and the nostalgic impact of the lyrics, it’s easy to get lost in Japandroids’ oeuvre. The songs sound new and familiar, capturing the fleeting idea of reminiscence that we all find ourselves feeling from time to time.
The album also features one of the most fantastic one-two rock punches in recent memory, placing “Younger Us” and “The House That Heaven Built” one after the other, the latter of which is a standout track among an album of standout tracks.
The pair is currently on tour, but from what I have heard tickets are selling incredibly fast, and with good reason. Seeing a Japandroids show is a great experience, and one that comes highly recommended. Check their website to see if they are coming to a town near you, and to order the album for yourself.[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/07.-The-House-That-Heaven-Built.mp3|titles=The House That Heaven Built]
UPDATE: The album is currently (TODAY!) available as a $3 download on Amazon. Go get it!