Canada’s Japandroids are a duo whose members are fast approaching their dirty 30s. This could explain why on their sophomore album, Celebration Rock they are filled with bravado and seem in search of the nearest party. It could be a retaliation against those people dragged into “maturity” kicking and screaming. Or perhaps it’s just the satisfaction of some rather base needs- wanting to f**k, drink and smoke, and it’s all distilled here into a sharp, 35-minute fanfare.
The truth is that the guitar and drums-wielding pair have done little to change the formula that held them in such good stead on their critically acclaimed debut, Post-Nothing. This time they enlisted the same producer; used virtually the same instruments; and the packaging and aesthetics remain largely unchanged.
Heck, you could even argue that there is very little difference to be found within the eight tracks on offer here. Save for the galloping yet scratchy cover of The Gun Club’s “For The Love Of Ivy,” it seems like the boys have used the AC/DC approach. That is that you stick with what you know and do well, even if you’ve already done this before on a previous album.
The guys apparently tried to get into the collective mindset of their audience while writing and recording this record. This resulted in a lot of chewed up and spat out vitriol plus a sense of urgency and pure rage. The lyrics are the stock and trade of rock anthems with plenty of “Heys”, “Yeahs” and “Ohs!” In fact, this can often mean that it’s easy to dismiss things as an overly simplistic, no-brainer.
But the truth is they still manage some absolute pearlers in the lyrics. Consider in “Continuous Thunder”: “If I had all the answers/And you had the body you wanted/Would we love with a legendary fire?”
Try as they might to be all youthful, aggressive and plain rebellious, there’s no denying a maturity in those lyrics. It’s one that is also replicated in the wistful nostalgia of “Younger Us”, a track included here twice with the alternative 7-inch version also added. It boasts:
“Remember saying things like we’ll sleep when we’re dead/And thinking this feeling was never going to end”.
Musically, Celebration Rock starts off literally with a bang as some crackling fireworks bookend both the aforementioned closer plus the opening track, “The Nights Of Wine & Roses”. The latter also includes some raw and energetic fuzz and sets up the template of influences (especially for the guitar riffs) that will run the gamut from: Smashing Pumpkins’ wall of guitars to Nirvana’s tortured howl and the Gunners’ sheer decadence. As such, the songs are that intense you can feel the sweat coming off the walls. It’s unsurprising then that this was recorded virtually live. The power-chords are particularly raw and found in spades while the drums are wild and pummeled hard and into submission.
The record also features seven bonus tracks including “Sex & Dying In High Society” by X; “Shame” by PJ Harvey; and “Jack The Ripper” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. They’re not bad versions even though the latter is rather languid by this lot’s standard. You certainly get the impression they’re much more at ease “Howling like outlaws” and extolling the same “Cold sweat blues” they sing of in “Fire’s Highway”.
Celebration Rock is a breathless, one-track party where the order of the day is hedonism and fun served by a bunch of still-rowdy kids. It’s not the sort of thing to sit back and ponder in any great detail (even though there are some buried gems in the lyrics). Instead, this one is best consumed whilst hot and sweaty and shouting along with a cast of thousands. Because this offering sounds like it’s far bigger than any two guys at work and those extra hands would add even more raw power to an already hard rock assault.
Originally published on 3 August 2012 at the following website: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/nd/albumreviews/celebration_rock_japandroids
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