Occasionally you just stumble across a band and it all makes sense. Japandroids are a two piece band from Vancouver comprising Brian King on guitar and David Prowse on drums. Stop I know what you're thinking ....White Stripes and Black Keys. Admittedly these are two of the most brilliant bands of recent years but they are rooted in the blues while the Japandroids are not. Garage rock is at the heart of Post Nothing but with a twist.
The only way I can describe this album is that it's the Stooges meets the Smashing Pumpkins. I can hear the howls of horror! Billy Corgan became such a bloated pompous prog rocker on horrible albums like Adore or Machina that you can get them today at the bottom of the 10p bin in most record stores. We forget however the earlier wonders of Gish and Siamese Dream. I remember the first time I played Cherub Rock from SD it knocked the plastic pineapple off my speakers as that wonderful buzzsaw guitar and thunderous noise exploded. "Post Nothing" has the same effect albeit it is much simpler and tighter. Most importantly it does not take itself so seriously
Highlights on the album include the searing "Heart Sweats" underpinned by wonderful drum roll that literally pulverises the kit. It is as exciting as anything on Raw Power and sets out the manifesto of the Japandroids namely fun, excitement and enough energy to decommission Sellafield. The 8 tracks of the album actually make it a glorified EP which is spot on. There is no filler or waste just tightly packed songs like the brilliant "Boys are leaving town" "Wet hair" and the slower "Crazy/Forever". The undoubted highlight is the fabulous "Young hearts spark fire". This is what the design template of rock music should be about. It should be played so high that you break the volume control knob on your beat up stereo and strains every sinew of your neighbours' patience. It goes from one high to the next with the stupidest lyrics as King announces "Oh / We used to dream / Now we worry about dying... I don't wanna worry about dying / I just wanna worry about the sunshine girls." Chekhov its not but it's bloody fabulous all the same. And that's the point of this album no one is asking you to take it seriously its about girls, fun and living in Vancouver. Its also about one of the most exciting and genuinely exhilarating albums of 2009.
Some records come with a feeling of not wanting to leave until each fuzzy drop of reverb has finished, of being late for work thanks to sitting in the car until every last track has come to a close, of missing the last bus home, just for an extra 30 seconds of encore. Vancouver's Japandroids have that appeal and more. Their lo-fi punk cum garage-rock yells about getting out of your hometown, drinking, getting girls (or not), simply being in a band, being young and getting older. Consequently, it is dumb, the vocals are daft and repetitive, but it is also essential. It leaves you breathless, spent and utterly content. It is the sound of simple done sickeningly well. It is Fugazi with more hooks and a sense of melody, it's No Age with tunes, it's a better quality Wavves if he stopped messing about with glitchtronica. The opening trinity of tracks are faultless. `Wet Hair' is particularly pleasing in a call-to-arms-for-the-disenfranchised kind of way, full of youthful dreams and fantasies, dreams, which have a realistic, but darker edge, on equal highlight `Young Hearts Spark Fire'. We used to dream, now we worry about dying, they sing in harmony. Even the album title is indicative of their don't-care-and-have-some-fun attitude; it turns their sound into a self-proclaimed year-zero for music and comes therefore with a degree of seminality. Time will only tell if that promise is seen through, but for now the sun is rising fast over these Japandroids.
Hands down the best album of 09' I'm hoping this will be the sound that propels us into the new decade.
Japandroids have gained a lot of comparisons to bands like No Age and Sunset Rubdown due to their sparse Guitar-Drums-Vocals two piece setup, but the album sounds like a four piece playing through fuzzed out guitars bouncing off the walls of a padded room. The energy is immense, which is a nice change of pace compared to all the ultra cool, lo-fi, cardigan wearing, 'Let's drench everything in reverb' hipsters that are polluting the alt rock scene at the moment. The wailing (but not dramatic) vocals and adhd drumming blend seamlessly into the sharp catchy riffs. There's an undeniable early 90's vibe to the album that makes it upbeat and catchy, every song is awesome, the guitar tones are amazing, the vocals sound a little muted on first listen but are perfectly in keeping with the consistent production.
I'm not going to state which songs are better than others, because they're all at least an 8/10, this deserves to be bought as an album, rather than a few select songs because it's a beautifully crafted masterpiece. One one hand these are real emotional songs, delivered with a passionate, carefree uncertainty, unlike the whiny Kerrang trash we attribute emo to today. On the other hand they're songs about girls and escaping your home life that are perfect for getting wasted with your best friends to.
Not lame enough to be cool, not cool enough to heard of, Japandroids are Alt Rock heroes. Just don't let the hipsters find out about them.