Brian King and David Prowse, the duo making up Vancouver’s Japandroids, are a force with which to be reckoned. Their live shows are quickly reaching ‘must-see’ level of notoriety, while their recorded outputs are only going from strength to strength. Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl, 2012), their recently released second full length, continues the onslaught of punchy garage rock anthems – learn the words, you’ll be singing soon.
Opening the album to a fanfare of fireworks, "The Nights of Wine and Roses" sets the stage, building to a flurry of fuzzed-out guitar and pummelling drums, and showcases the band’s development as song writers since their last outing right off the top. As King has pointed out himself, the lyrics no longer play second fiddle to the music. The vocals are now as much a driving force to many of Japandroid’s songs as their other instruments and lyrical content is given more forethought than ever before. In interviews, the band chalks up their growth, and the accolades for their song-writing prowess, to something quite simple, really – time.
Exerting all efforts to gain a following from a surprisingly unimpressed audience in their home town of Vancouver since forming in 2006, the band exploded in popularity in late 2008 seemingly on the back of a single gig at New York’s CMJ. Following this breakthrough, they toured for a solid year-and-a-half in support of their critically acclaimed debut full length, Post-Nothing1 . With countless performances under their belts (and three years between full lengths) Japandroids have had the opportunity to develop and grow as artists, with both musicianship and craftsmanship building in equal measure.
There are a number of stand out tracks on Celebration Rock "Evil’s Sway" issues a wall of distortion and punchy drumming to match King’s seething vocal, with a result that would make fellow countrymen Propagandhi proud. Lead single "The House that Heaven Built" offers one of the most infectious scream-alongs you’ll hear this year. "Adrenaline Nightshift" reveals another sing-along inducing anthem propelled by pummelling drums and classic rock tones.
Although by comparison Celebration Rock is an all around more polished release, both of Japandroids’ full lengths exude the steady confidence of the duo. Japandroids go in the direction of a sound picture and style which is largely untapped by their contemporaries (perhaps bar the notable DZ Deathrays or Bass Drum of Death). It should be mentioned that some listeners would be inclined to decry the lack of a bass; however, in reality, the simple rawness of vocals, guitar and drums on their own lends itself perfectly to the adolescent angst that is the centre of so many Japandroids tracks.
Celebration Rock culminates in the fizzling of fireworks following closer "Continuous Thunder", a fitting slow decline to let you absorb the euphoric urgency, and roaring pace, of the rest of the album. Eight songs and 35 minutes of, purely for lack of a better word, celebration.
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