by Michael Thomas
“We don’t cry for those nights to arrive/We yell like hell to the heavens.”
That line from album opener “The Nights of Wine and Roses” is a perfect summary of what Japandroids does. The duo of Brian King and David Prowse are known for making a hell of a lot of noise. There is no doubt about their noise-making capabilities on their sophomore record, the aptly-titled Celebration Rock.
It’s fairly well-known that this record might not have ever existed. Japandroids broke up right before the release of their debut Post-Nothing, but the embrace of the album by both fans and critics stopped them from putting their music to an end. Celebration Rock, then, is certainly something to celebrate. The atmosphere is established right away with “The Nights of Wine and Roses,” that actually begins with the sound of fireworks going off. The celebration is bookended with “Continuous Thunder,” whose last minute is also the sound of fireworks going off.
So where is the Polaris appeal in this record? Sure, it’s a lot of fun. But the key here is its accessibility. Polaris winners over the past few years have been criticized for being “indie rock,” whatever the hell that means. These albums were all great, of course, but few manage to pull off their ideas simply.
Japandroids are not seeking to bowl you over with poetic and witty lyrics- they’re seeking to get you singing along and maybe even relate to what they’re singing about. While their songs may at first come across as having a similar message to fun.’s song “We Are Young,” it’s the track “Younger Us” that really shows how mature this band is.
The song is a reminisce, and in it King sings about remembering saying “We’ll sleep when we’re dead” and other such YOLO-esque sayings. And that’s what it is- remembering. Japandroids recognize that you can’t be a hedonistic asshole for all of your life. This duo has somehow managed to make a mature album full of celebratory rock, who knew?
This album will likely be a tougher sell for the grand jury at this year’s gala-but wouldn’t it be awesome if they did win? You could have a headline like “Celebrating Celebration Rock” or something. But in all seriousness, it would be great if an album almost universally admired did end up taking the prize home.