Opening and closing an album with fireworks would go down as arrogance in most people’s books, but Japandroids just about pull it off. And that’s because there’s nothing egotistical about the Canadian duo’s second full-length record – it genuinely unfolds to reveal an intense and emotional celebration of good times, raising a glass to the past and embracing life. For those reasons Celebration Rock couldn’t have been more aptly titled: 35 minutes of maximal, expressive rock music.
In 2009 Japandroids released their debut LP, Post-Nothing, and while their expressive liberation hasn’t been lost in translation between albums, there’s no doubt that in those three years they’ve solidified their sound. It’s refreshing to see a band perfect their sound rather than go through the apparently necessary ‘evolution’ process that often diminishes any chance of building a true fan base. We fell in love with Japandroids for the reckless riffs and they remain; only this time around they’re delivered with a mastery and punk ethos that gives Celebration Rock a turbulent superiority.
The peak of songwriting is delivered through penultimate track, ‘The House That Heaven Built’. Backing vocals and exertive drumming builds up progressively, accompanied by lyrics that epitomise the optimism and salvation of Celebration Rock: “it’s a lifeless life with no fixed address to give / but you’re not mine to die for anymore / so I must live.” ‘Younger Us’ and ‘The Nights of Wine and Roses’ exemplify their ability to combine hard riffs with stories of drinking and smoking the night away – no-nonsense rock music in its purest and most enjoyable form.
If you need a record to reinstate your faith in rock music, don’t be put off by the potentially meretricious nature of a record with such a title. It lives up to its name and proves that Japandroids are capable of creating an album focusing on a topic that few other bands even brush shoulders against – the brilliant urgency of life. Embrace it.