Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Record Label: Polyvinyl Records
Release Date: June 5, 2012
You know, man, just, fuck. I mean, come on. Is this shit real? "Don't we have anything to live for? / Well of course we do / But until it comes true / We're drinking." Who says that? Or more importantly, who takes it seriously, like it's some sort of porch-preached sermon? "She'll kiss away your gypsy fears / And turn restless nights to restless years." That's a real lyric! Sung by real people! And I don't know, man, I just sometimes have no idea. But I think, and I stress the word think, that Japandroids are a couple of the most reactionary people I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. And in the world of post-breakup, post-art, post-(haha)-nothing, being two impulsively emotional people is almost as dumb as it is brilliant.
A person I long ago knew once said, "Creativity is a reaction." When you read that, you're like, duh. But before you read that, it's hard to put into concise words what imagination really is. To Japandroids, it's taking simple, frantic rock chords and brain-beating drums, then throwing in a heavy dose of youthful whatever-the-hell. But doing so in non-ironically poetic ways, like they do on "Continuous Thunder": "Heart's terrain is never a prairie / But you weren't wary." Just try and think for a minute about the last time you had a thought that wasn't only important but honest. Then think about the time you actually said it aloud. Doesn't happen very often, sadly. But Japandroids spend 8 songs and 35 minutes doing exactly that, over and over, in every unconventional way possible.
I suppose rock music just isn't supposed to be like this. At least, if we're supposed to believe that giving white dudes amps and groupies automatically slingshots them to the lowest common denominator of human interaction. On Celebration Rock though, on songs like the grungy, rockabilly-ish punk-ish "For The Love Of Ivy" or aptly-yet-confusingly named "Adrenaline Nightshift," we are not treated to derivatively banal statements of emotion-through-aggression. They're aggressive, sure. They're VERY loud. They say things like, "Busting my guts / On a riot dose of paradise." And they carry a meaning that doesn't stop when the song does. Instead, with each new smash (literally) hit, the motifs and themes build and build. They pick up steam, almost overwhelming us to the point where we have to drop the needle and just get the fuck out. But that emotionally claustrophobic feeling always fades away, leaving a void that can only be filled by the gang-vocal "Oh Yeah's" of "Evil's Sway" or the hyperactively filthy guitar solo of "Younger Us." Oh man.
Fully aware that this sort of stream of consciousness crap is not doing me or the band any favors, I feel required to tell you that I am having a barbecue this weekend. And that the people coming to this barbecue don't know it yet, but the only album we will be playing is Celebration Rock. (Which, honestly, is the best way I can think of to describe the mindset of this album.) I'm probably going to try and light something or someone on fire. Maybe even myself. Because there's one thing you can learn from a pure rock 'n roll album like this, and that's that sometimes you have to stop letting things happen to you, and start making them happen for you. So I'm going to play this album. And I'm going to thrash around and see them in concert and get real drunk enjoying my new-found lease on summer. It's going to be awesome. You should stop by.
Recommended If You Like: Titus Andronicus, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, The White Stripes, No Age
Man Mr. Solomon, you are streets ahead of any other reviewer on this site and just most of the punk rock internet community in general. As much fun as you had with writing this, I doubt there will be another review for this album that comes close to capturing the feel of the record the way this one did. Kudos.
Anyways, this is my favorite record of the year so far. Cannot wait for my preorder to come in.