2012, Polyvinyl Records
8.6 / 10.0
Noise rock duo Japandroids’ newest album, Celebration Rock, begins and ends with fireworks, both literally and metaphorically. Seemingly drawing inspiration from classic rock bands, Celebration Rock is a fitting title for the album, paying tribute to thunderous arena rock and celebrating the genre’s associated carefree attitude. Even while facing the adversity of growing older and getting stuck with (*gulp*) responsibility, Japandroids manage to pull it off. As grim as a future of paying bills, parenthood, and corporate servitude can be, Japandroids cling to youth and thrive within rock’s rebellious nature.
Opening track, “The Nights of Wine and Roses” sets the album’s tone immediately. Dave Prowse’s drums progressively build leading into Brian King’s energetic riffing and defiant vocals, “Don’t we have anything to live for? / Well, of course we do / But until they come true / We’re drinking / And we’re still smoking”. The song completely rewrites a history of mopey rockers fronting addiction issues because they have nothing to live for. King’s vocals say that a future does exist, but that’s no reason to stop partying or living in the current moment. The day will inevitably come, so for right now, they’ll yell like hell to the heavens.
That song’s middle finger to the rules of the society is a hell of a way to kick Celebration Rock into gear, and its momentum barely lets up. At a short but meaty length of eight songs, Celebration Rock could work as a reference guide, How To Create Rock Anthems for Dummies. Chant along rock choruses feel natural in their placement throughout the album, creating a communion with listeners only strengthened by Japandroids full blast rock assaults. Celebration Rock’s heavy arena-stomp sound is an impressive feat for King and Prowse as they pretty much outperform most full size bands. Do the Foo Fighters pack this much excitement and audio adrenaline into their sound? The answer is no.
Both halves of Celebration Rock sustain the album’s high-volume drive, making it entirely difficult to set apart favorites from one another. Opening half’s “Fire’s Highway” and “Evil’s Sway” have a sticking familiarity, probably resulting from the song’s influences. The second half revives the Japandroid’s 2010 single stunner, “Younger Us”, a reminiscing push back against getting old and going to bed early. However, the following “The House That Heaven Built” could be Celebration Rock’s most memorable moment with King’s scratchy yelling, “When they love you and they will / Tell’em all they’re loving my shadow / When they try to slow you down / Tell’em all to go to hell”. I think Celebration Rock proves that the last thing most listeners want is for Japandroids to slow down, as if anyone could make them.
Purchase: Japandroids – Celebration Rock