Friday, 8 June 2012

Review: Japandroids - Celebration Rock

 Historically, whenever critics more professional than myself refer to relatively unknown bands as a way to come up with a better band than the one they're currently reviewing, listening said band afterwards is a less-than-enjoyable experience, where pretentious alt rock that is meant to be "deep and meaningful" fills listeners ears, leading to a "Fuck off! I'm fine with my totally mainstream rock!" response. But,t here's always room for exceptions. I've seen proper critics drop references to Canadian duo Japandroids a few times now as an example of a better band, so with little previous knowledge I've stepped into their second album Celebration Rock. This is better than my mainstream rock stuff. In every sense.

 No, the music on Celebration Rock isn't anything like the pretentious alternative stuff that music critics like to drop into their reviews to display superiority but, well Japandroids are superior. There isn't a thing on this album that you wouldn't want to fall in love with, as the gradual buildup on The Nights of Wine and Roses builds up an epic sense of excitement and adventure before crashing into a massive wall of guitars both squealing with high pitched delight and buzzing underneath with driving buzzsaw riffs. The sound gives the concept of rock and roll a new layering of epicness. It's hard to believe that such a sound was only created by two guys, Brian King and David Prowse.
 The basic principle of Celebration Rock is to play riff driven rock songs inspired by Hüsker Dü, Fugazi and Lifes Rich Pageant era R.E.M. and play it they do with the noise and distortion cranked way up for the likes of Fire's Highway and The House That Heaven Built, where listeners can drown themselves in beautiful levels of distortion and swirling textures.
 At this point you could point out a sense of repetition, with all songs simply comprising of riff driven songs with a similar structure throughout the album. And sensing that, it should be reflected on just what allows for a great rock album. Truly a band that can crack it is a band that can make use of a songwriting formula, but continuously spike it with a extra freshness that makes each song feel like a new experience with it's very own character. And Japandroids do just that on Celebration Rock. And with prominent bursts of uplifting beauty and the roughened sound of homegrown punk heard in the delightful vocal hooks of King and Prowse, they craft music that listeners can just fall in love with every new song.
 Sometimes album titles can be extremely apt for the type of music contained within and then other times you get... Celebration Rock, an album of rock songs for good times, a collection of songs that will make you feel like you can fly become the happiest kid on the planet. This is one of those albums that just makes it great to be alive and with such ecstasy and such a feeling of indestructibility that listeners will experience when listening to Japandroids, yes they probably will feel superior to everyone else. I'm definitely going to need to start unleashing lines like "Oh, yeah, your Linkin Park is fine, BUT IT'S NO JAPANDROIDS." I wouldn't even feel like a hipster for doing that. I'll feel awesome.

 Japandroids' Celebration Rock is out now via Polyvinyl Records. The band will play at Summer Sundae Weekend at De Montfort Hall, Leicester from 17th-19th August.

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