Whatever Vancouver twosome Japandroids may claim or a three-year history could corroborate, their debut album isn’t likely to be judged on their self-declared genre basis of ‘post-nothing’.
Instead, timing decrees that the rise of noise-pop – the loose movement of fuzzy lo-fi indie-rock led by American acts such as Los Angeles’s No Age and brattish San Diego surf slacker Wavves – will represent their perceived year zero.
Even so, flying the Maple Leaf by those parameters, Japandroids ooze an individuality that just might elevate them above already semi-established cult names.
For one, nobody has nailed the lump-in-throat uncertainty of emotionally tempestuous teenage times with which noise-pop generally shares association better than this. New beginnings, humbling first fumbles with fresh-faced girls, underage drinking, summers so hot even the memories are hazy; it’s all evoked in Technicolor minutiae.
Pitching a pop-punk ebullience against garage-rock crackle, guitarist/vocalist Brian King’s songcraft takes a minute to catch light. Your own heart is exhilaratingly scorched once head-rushes like Young Hearts Spark Fire burst into rainbow-coloured flames, though, King igniting the real damage, lamenting: “We used to dream / Now we worry about dying”.
A disarming, endearing projected innocence is another vital plus, nowhere more apparent than Wet Hair, King gushing: “She had wet hair / Say what you will / I don’t care / I couldn’t resist it”. Its three minutes harbour an understandable travel ambition, too: visiting France to, logically, “French kiss some French girls”. French-Canadian ladies, it seems, need not apply.
The purity is violated a little on the meaty Heart Sweats, nearer to the primal low-end thrust of much-missed compatriots (and fellow duo) Death From Above 1979 than any immediate peers.
Thankfully, that virtue swiftly returns on I Quit Girls, bottling adolescent excitement and disappointment into one whole while mentally dissecting “one of those girls”, who causes King to vow never again. Beguilingly direct yet leaving imagination to fill in the gaps, it’s the level of unspoken unknowns that will keep you coming back for more, time and time again. --Adam Anonymous
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