Every track’s an anthem, every second precious, on this breathless new album.
Reef Younis 2012
Inaction almost killed Japandroids. Inhibited by geography, frustrated by logistics and stifled by a lack of progress, debut album Post Nothing was an apathetic statement to that effect – an album created with purpose and intent but released out of stubborn love and flat-lining dedication. But born out of a raw, one-take necessity and driven by a relentless energy and vitality, it was an honest, unfiltered soundtrack to freedom, ambition and kicking against the world.
Buzzing in at a fleeting 35 minutes, that dose was small but its impact was fierce, and that’s an ethos Brian King and David Prowse have held dear ever since. Now, characterised by anthems, if not the same lyrical ambiguity, Celebration Rock follows in equally short, affirming footsteps.
Bookended by the punk-rock shellacking of opener The Nights of Wine and Roses and the tumultuous rumble of closer Continuous Thunder, it’s ablaze with the brotherhood and free-willed abandon that made their debut so refreshingly vital. Where they were once happy to crack the volume and invite you to colour in the blanks, here they’re determined to say more; to add depth to their punching, pulsating sound. That sound is still in boisterous evidence throughout – but while they’re certainly saying more, Japandroids aren’t necessarily saying something else.
The rockabilly blues of The Gun Club’s For the Love of Ivy is spoken and spat with a frothing venom, Fire’s Highway and Evil’s Sway don’t miss a beat, and The House that Heaven Built powers on with the spirit of Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem. Brian rises to the challenge, barking: “And if they try to slow me down / I’ll tell them all to go to hell.”
That belligerence saved them once and it’s the overriding sentiment of an album wracked with spirit and a ferocious refusal to let anything slide away. Every track’s an anthem; every second’s precious, each breath as breathless as the last. Once subdued and struggling, Japandroids are now hurtling at the only speed they were ever likely to be comfortable with. And may they never stop.