Released next week on Polyvinyl, Celebration Rock is a
mission statement for the Canadian band.
By Danny R. Phillips
In my book, it is a good
sign when a record opens with the sound of fireworks ripping open the night
sky. It is a signal to the world of what
is to come in the 35 minutes that are to follow: an explosion of distortion,
pounding drums, ear-splitting volume and stories of fighting against a mundane
life. Japandroids’ Celebration Rock has that by the truckloads; the Canadian duo picks
up seamlessly were Bob Mould’s Husker Du and Sugar left off: Japandroids are showing,
without reservation, their allegiance to music built upon pop sensibilities and
the rotten teeth of punk rock. Celebration Rock is their mission
statement and it seems to be written in all caps.
Few bands blend the
sing-along wonder of bands like The Hold Steady and Against Me! with the
ability and prowess to make aggressive music with conviction and not just
present itself as Hot Topic sponsored bullshit.
There is nothing contrived or manufactured feeling when listening to the
all too short Celebration Rock. The Vancouver,
British Columbia duo (Brian King,
David Prowse) seem to revel in what could be perceived limitations that come
with the guitar/drums only setup. Brian
King buries his guitar in fuzz and volume while Prowse deals out rapid-fire
rhythms. Instead of being stuck in a
small sound they explode, telling great stories of fighting against mediocrity
and making the most of what life has dealt you, whether it is a royal flush or
the Dead Man’s Hand.
The album can be
exhausting with its full throttle blast through 35 minutes but that is ok, life
can be exhausting. Like the band’s first
release Post-Nothing in 2009,
Japandroids sophomore effort is loaded end to end with great songwriting and
the joy they’ve found in their influences.
“The House That Heaven Built” makes a racket like that you would expect
if Bob Mould had been the lead guitarist for The Replacements. “Continuous Thunder” sounds like U2 with
much, much bigger balls, “Nights of Wine and Roses” and “Adrenaline Nightshift”
would have been right at home on Springsteen’s Born to Run. Hell, they even
throw in an exceptional cover of The
Gun Club’s “For the Love of Ivy” as if to tell the music nerds out there,
“Yeah, this one’s for you. We did our
Granted, Celebration Rock is not something that
has never been heard before but the name fits perfectly. The album ends as it begins, with
fireworks. Japandroids have a reason to
celebrate, to explode into the night because they have given world back guitar
driven fuzz rock with real storytelling.
King sings “Still waiting for a generation’s bonfire to begin” on
“Adrenaline Nightshift”; well, my man, I think Celebration Rock is both the can of gas and a box of matches
they’ve been waiting for and I could not be happier.