It’s almost impossible to write a fair lede for the Japandroids‘ new record. With so many credible, but familiar touch points and a title that almost begs cynicism, it’s hard to not speak in cliches.
What’s hidden under easy sonic comparisons and heartfelt lyrics is the fact Japandroids might just be the best rock band in Canada and certainly the most dedicated to their fan base.
The duo has spent the better part of three years releasing 7″s full of covers and cuts that either just missed the last record or were being fine tuned for the next, but more importantly for Brian and Dave, they toured relentlessly and played every song like it might be their last. That intensity and energy defines Celebration Rock and explains why the LP took so long to come together.
Post-Nothing was somewhat of a conclusion for the band. It was recorded as the duo wrestled with their future, and somehow marked the end to their struggle to get heard outside their own city. I’m not sure Brian or Dave ever needed more than the support and respect of their Vancouver scene - you felt the love for Vancouver when they tore down the stage on Fallon while wearing an iconic shirt from Sharks and Hammers - but now home is somewhat of a foreign concept and everything that made Post-Nothing so perfect for Vancouver summers is becoming more of a memory.
Rock ‘n roll is based on hooks and choruses that come alive when the flood lights shine, but I can’t think of another band that feeds off the crowd as much as Japandroids. Obviously Celebration Rock is laced with optimism, but also with gratitude. The duo attacks each note with urgency, trying to transport the listener to every sweaty, bro-hugged filled show, but those moments are just as important to keep Brian and Dave’s hearts pumping like the huge kick drum that drives most songs. They cut their teeth on those dank Vancouver shows, and when they get in the van or fly across the ocean for months at a time, these songs are the postcard they send and the thanks they give.
Kanye visualized live shows as he built songs for Jay that forced the crowd to call his name. He saw the future and felt the adrenaline, and Celebration Rock does much the same thing. I know that bands trying to leverage fist pumping, Springsteen-ish jams are certainly common these days, but choruses like “The House That Heaven Built” and “Evil’s Sway” don’t just get you to raise your fist, they threaten to punch a fucking hole sky. It’s those moments, the ones some might discard as simple ohs and ahs supported by huge guitar riffs and thumping drums, that make this record so important to Canada’s scene.
The band has grown up. Obviously, more was put into the lyrics and recordings but Celebration Rock is a better version of an already great sound. This time around it’s about more than drinks and legendary summer hangs, but Brian reminds us life doesn’t have to be. Celebration Rock is unstoppable by design, and for those magical thirty-five minutes, we feel like we might be too.
MP3:: Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built