Review: Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Fireworks, drums that sound like bomb blasts, lightning bolts of electric guitar, and a rhetorical question: “Long lit up tonight and still drinking/Don’t we have anything to live for?”

So begins one of the greatest rock records of the 21st century. It’s also one of the most aptly named. Celebration Rock. Rarely has an album title ever doubled so effectively as a perfect description of what’s inside. In 2012, with their second LP, Canadian rockers Japandroids served up music perfect for…well, for celebrating to.

What were we celebrating, you may ask? Frankly, if you had Celebration Rock blasting out of a stereo back in 2012, it didn’t matter what you were celebrating, or whether you were celebrating at all. The songs made it feel like a celebration. They made any moment feel like a goddamn, out-of-hand, my-car-is-in-the-swimming-pool rager.

I’ll forever be thankful that I was the age I was when Celebration Rock landed on May 29, 2012. As a recently-minted 21-year-old, I was old enough to get into bars and legally consume alcohol. But I was also still a college student, still sharing an apartment with my college buddies, and still another year or so shy of when real-life responsibility would start to set in. In other words, I was old enough to celebrate the way the characters in Celebration Rock celebrate, and young enough to do it with all the reckless abandon of youth. Even thinking about some of the shit I did while playing these songs very loud on my apartment stereo makes my head hurt with the ghosts of shitty mixed drinks and dreadful hangovers.

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Review: Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Japandroids - Near to..

“It’s a lifeless life, with no fixed address to give/But you’re not mine to die for anymore/So I must live.” On the list of the best lyrics of the decade so far, that one—the most climactic line from the Japandroids’ blistering, cathartic “The House That Heaven Built”—has to be near the top. To me, that line has always been a beautifully apt statement about growing up and moving on. I suppose you could read it as a lyric about a break up, but I prefer to see it as a vow to let go of the things that used to define your life and build new ones in their place.

In a way, that’s exactly what Japandroids are doing on Near to the Wild Heart of Life, their third full-length album and their first in nearly five years. Their last record, 2012’s Celebration Rock, was more appropriately titled than any other album released in the past seven years. Beginning and ending with fireworks, the album raged with pounding guitars, blitzkrieg drums, and shout-along choruses that could put anyone in a party mood. It was an album about being young, staying up all night, making memories with friends, and drinking way more than could feasibly be deemed “necessary.”

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