Japandroids: Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl) 

After a barrage of fireworks and crashing drums, Brian King introduces Japandroids' second album, Celebration Rock: "Long lit up tonight and still drinking, don't we have anything to live for?" Not so celebratory.

Since their 2009 debut album, Post-Nothing, Japandroids have played with the heart of Bruce Springsteen and the body of Hüsker Dü, creating some of the most-potent indie/punk music in recent memory. They've positioned themselves in the role of the last of the rock 'n' roll true believers—but things get blurry here.

At first, they reassure that, of course, they have something for which to live. But then they ally themselves with the dark, super-religious Los Angeles post-punk of the early 1980s (examples: the Dream Syndicate play on words of "The Nights of Wine and Roses," and the Gun Club cover "For the Love of Ivy"), which is the antithesis of Japandroids' all-for-one, one-for-all M.O. Which means that for all their Gun Club-inspired "evil" talk, Celebration Rock is a decidedly non-ironic title.

As for the songs, they're pretty impressive, with a few gems littering the bunch: the aforementioned lead track "The Nights of Wine and Roses," the anthemically romantic "Fire's Highway" and the romantically anthemic "Continuous Thunder."

All of this adds up to the beginning of a reconciliation between Japandroids' noble, if naïve, roots, and a darker and more-complex worldview. Not many acts are currently finding the common ground within the separated spiritual and physical histories of rock 'n' roll, which represents a kind of release. Celebration Rock, indeed.

More by Joshua Levine


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