What do you get when you combine the raw energy of Cloud Nothings with the defiance of Say Anything and the earnestness, “loudness” and ’90s punk nostalgia of Pinkerton-era Weezer?
You get Vancouver duo Japandroids. Specifically, you get Celebration Rock. You get a guns-blazing, kicking-and-screaming rebellion against growing up and celebration of youth all rolled into one. You get the rock album of the summer. At the very least, you get a head-banging, air-drumming, air-guitaring, Real Good Time (but not the kind Pitbull is talking about). And there’s more than enough oh-oh-ohs and HEYs sandwiched between the fireworks that begin and end this album to make you feel Forever Young (but not the kind Mr. Hudson is talking about).
In fact, Celebration Rock is decidedly anti-pop. It’s purely a rock record – no “pop-rock” or “pop-punk” here. It might be more melodic and less jagged than the conventional paradigm of modern rock arguably set by the Foo Fighters, but it’s still edgy, and it’s still a straightforward rock album. It’s sad that we have to even debate whether rock is dying as a genre, but it’s hard to dispute that there’s a dearth of good rock acts out there. Maybe we just need a little more Japandroids every now and then and we’ll all be fine.
Like Cheap Girls, another energetic up-and-coming act working through the “getting older” thing lyrically and with loud guitars, Japandroids doesn’t bother with triteness or any sort of déjà entendu at all; they frame the battle against growing up in new light and with new energy. In a phrase, Celebration Rock is a heavy dose of aggressively earnest nostalgia. The most evocative lines among many come in the album’s superstar “The House That Heaven Built”:
When they love you and they will
Tell them all, they’ll love in my shadow
And if they try to slow you down
Tell them all, to go to hell
It’s always terrific when an album’s music perfectly complements it’s lyrical content, and Celebration Rock is certainly no exception. The angst in the overdriven guitar work and raucous drumming is palpable, and it makes each song resonate at the natural frequency of youthful souls.
“Give me younger us!” guitarist Brian King pleads as drummer David Prowse echoes him in “Younger Us,” between pungently concise memories of younger days. And while this is perhaps the most urgent of the eight tracks, with the exception of “The House That Heaven Built” nothing really stands out above the rest. Which is not to say that the album is murky and bland by any means; on the contrary, it’s a testament to how well it flows from beginning to end. At the beginning, the tone is… well, celebratory; but by the end, it’s decidedly melancholy and you’ll probably be missing your younger years too by the time you hit the last fireworks.
Join Japandroids this Summer in turning “restless nights to restless years,” whether you’re making up for lost time or just staying up late for no good reason at all. It’s worth it.
(1) The Nights of Wine and Roses
(2) Fire’s Highway
(3) Evil’s Sway
(6) Younger Us
(7) The House That Heaven Built
(8) Continuous Thunder