Canadian two-piece Japandroids are back with their second album of raucous, energetic punk rock. According to songwriter Brian King, Celebration Rock was written with the band’s dynamic live show in mind, and true to his word, each song feels only a hair’s breath away from a huge ‘whoa-oh-oh’ moment.
Celebration Rock thrives on energy, songwriting nous and ability to deliver crowd-pleasing moments, but the second major string to Japandroid’s bow is the powerful and endearing vocal delivery of King. Any world-wearied rock fan will appreciate the life-affirming nature of the band’s stories, much like a pared-back version of kindred North American spirits The Hold Steady.
With so many great moments here, one could single out any number of tracks for praise, but Celebration Rock‘s lyrical themes are perhaps best encapsulated on “Younger Us.” True to form, one can imagine King – head thrown back, eyes closed – three feet from the microphone when he shouts “Give me younger us,” and in those four words, you can feel the angst, the burning desire, the ambition and the reckless abandon of youth, yet also the undeniable tinge of weariness and nostalgia. It’s raw, powerful stuff that cuts straight to the quick.
Midtempo closer “Continuous Thunder” is another standout, but every song has ‘anthem’ written all over it. The album proper consists of a modest eight tracks, but of particular interest to the band’s Oceanic fanbase will be the wealth of bonus content on the Auz/NZ edition, from old demos, vinyl-only tracks and a handful of curious covers of the likes of Nick Cave, P. J. Harvey and under-appreciated Aussie punk icons X.
– Darren Gubbins