Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Neil Martin chances upon one of the albums of the year so far. Maybe:

Teenage angst is overrated. Sometimes the best way to deal with the uncertainties of youth is to accept that your only option is to blaze through those wilderness years with the reckless abandon of someone who is either immortal or doomed to an early grave.  This is what Japandroids second album sounds like.

It opens with these lines: “Long lit up tonight and still drinking/Don’t we have anything to live for/Well, of course we do, but until it comes true/We’re drinking.” This pretty much sums up the eight tracks and 35 minutes that follow. Short, concise anthems to directionless youth. Songs about staying up all night, sordid sexual encounters, burning the candle at both ends and living without regret. So often these kinds of songs can sound contrived and up being too literary, a trap The Hold Steady often fall into. Japandroids have the urgency that suggests they are writing about their own lives rather than sounding like 30-somethings writing about some romanticised, mythological idea of urban disaffection and young adulthood.

Celebration Rock sounds great all messy, revving guitars that burst into life like the beginning of the greatest night on the town you ever had. Hooligan choruses of “woos” and “oh oh ohs” that bring to mind drunken bar singalongs at 1am. The band sound just that right kind of sloppy, the best kind of sloppy, on the edge of collapse but always just holding it together, like The Replacements at their best.  In fact this is probably the closest thing I have heard recently to that Mats sound. Most bands compared to them sound studied and academic but Japandroids and Celebration Rock capture some of that raw honesty that made The Mats so wonderful. This is absolutely a contender for album of the year but it may be that I burn out on it in a couple of months. Given the subject matter that would perhaps be only fitting.

Review by Neil Martin