Review: ‘Celebration Rock’ by Japandroids

jason stives celebrates good times — come on…

It’s quite fitting that Vancouver fuzz rockers Japandroids titled their debut Post Nothing, as it appeared to be a black abyss for the duo at the time of its release. With no exposure and growing interest, the band’s first release was seen by the band as an unintentional swan song with band members Brian King and David Prowse already setting up new outfits just as the album was gaining momentum. So when the band was given a second chance thanks to some strong love from music lovers and critics, the transition from Post Nothing to their sophomore effort, Celebration Rock, feels like a rebirth for a band on the outs and they want to live it up even if they know they can’t second guess what they have now.

If there is one thing that is simply tragic in youthful music is the notion that all you need is good friends and good tunes and the desire not to grow up. Japandroids clearly felt that way for a long time but only embrace it on Celebration Rock as a way of aging through their career struggles. Celebration Rock is apathetically about growing up but still enjoying those nights that bastards of young troll the streets with beer and cigarettes in hand. “The Nights of Wine and Roses” speaks volume to this declaration as singer Bryan King rattles:

“Long lit up tonight and still drinking
Don’t we have anything to live for.
Well, of course we do
But until it comes true we’re drinking.”

The fact that Japandroids chose to reminisce is not a bad idea and through the album’s entirety, living it up is highly fashionable. While Celebration Rock may be made in much the same way as Post Nothing; it unleashes on the ear lyrically and musically like your drunk friend screaming in your ear pouring pulse pounding, garbage can whacking thematic that are both fun and inspiring. Tracks like “Fire’s Highway” and “For the Love of Ivy,” diversify a very straight and narrow sound building on each other in little spurts of endless thrashing and sophomore album maturation. Drummer David Prowse fires out of the gates beating the hell out of his drum kit and making the job of King’s poignant lyrics and shelter rattling vocals all the more important to convey.

Ironically enough it’s tracks like “Adrenaline Nightshift” and “Younger Us” that talk with bated breath about the intertwining of companionship and the love of music that this reviewer has decried against. It may be easy to pass judgment because they are far more complicated songs than the average crunchy adolescent rock music that would deeply be associated with teenage delirium. The fire that burns and the fast engine that piston all accelerate to “The House that Heaven Built,” where King builds to a crescendo that sums up the best non senior class address when he says “It’s a lifeless life with no fixed address to give.”

Celebration Rock is something profoundly special in rock music and in 2012 it’s about as meaningful as any message between friends at the end of high school saying they will see each other at college in the fall. Japandroids are moving on in their sound but will gladly say “fuck it all” for one last night of fraternizing with their old friends.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Excellent)