Review Summary: Post-Nothing is the perfect soundtrack to the fear and excitement of youth's impulsive action.
As I come to the end of my first year at University, leaving a trail of smashed pint-glasses, broken teeth and unidentifiable pink goo behind me, I find myself in a state of reflection. The small, family-orientated town I spent 16 years of my life in – uncovering every shortcut, exploring every forest, kicking every fallen pinecone along the way – had been swapped for a huge, intimidating, student-heaving city. The shortcuts were traded for travellators, the forests for shopping centres, the pinecones for empty Carling cans. Yet these were the things I’d dream of while camping with friends in the heath, staring up to the stars permanently frozen in their darkness. I knew I would be terrified yet I couldn’t wait to leave. The freedom, the madness, the unknown. In my head I must have been writing this record. Japandroids' (or JPNDRDS) first full length – Post-Nothing
– is the perfect embodiment of the post-teen angst, excitement, anxiety and fuc
k-it artlessness of finally packing your bags and moving on, wherever the destination as long as it’s at least a million miles away from home.
Describing the sound of Japandroids is not exactly a difficult thing to do, but it seems a little unfair as their on-paper conventions could cause some readers to sigh, roll eyes and wave their miniature ‘I-will-not-succumb-to-trends!’ flags in the air. Yes, they have a two man DIY punk ethic, creating lo-fi noise/garage punk rock with mega poppy hooks. And yes, they will immediately give off vibes of fuzz lovers No Age, Wavves, Times New Viking and all the others that are wagging their tongues out the window of this distorted speeding bandwagon. But by no means should they be carelessly categorized as fickle trend-hoppers, with one finger on the pulse and, as long as it stays there, the other on an effects pedal. This is more than that. The brilliance of Japandroids is their ability to tap into that rush we all feel when we’re about to do something risky, unpredictable, reckless, even stupid. It’s that rush, that uncontrollable electric boom that gives the band the energy needed to surge away from the plain fuzz of the first ten seconds of ‘The Boys Are Leaving Town’ and never look back. “Will we find our way back home?” the boys ask, the anxiety fiddling with the strings at the back of the mind, but for the rest of the record, it seems like they couldn’t care less.
In ‘Wet Hair’ the band have created one of a number of mini fuc
k-it anthems, a fierce cry for the resurrection of impulsive actions. “She had wet hair / Say what you will / I don't care / I couldn’t resist it”, the infectious lyrics propelled by the broad, insurgent chords of King and the perfectly partnered vigorous drumming by Rowe. ‘Heart Sweats’ is another of a number of highlights, with a darker but still relentless set of chords and Rowe’s sprayed, spastic drums igniting King’s vocals which explode for a chorus that will still have precedence in your head’s lyric bank come the end of the year. The band slow things down a little for the last three songs. ‘Crazy/Forever’ opts for a stoner/shoegaze approach, a single chorus accompanied by immovable fuzzy chords and cymbal-heavy drums becoming more than enough for a ton of just-turned-twenty-let’s-reminisce-high-school sweethearts emotive output. Just how only two guys are able to do this – make music that gets hearts racing, heads thinking, and hands pounding unfortunate steering wheels – is a mystery. That’s the magic of Japandroids, and it’s appearance on closer ‘I Quit Girls’ – a song for any guy who has experienced even the slightest form of heartbreak (so just everyone) – all but cementing their place on my best-of-09 album list. When the drums quietly kick in you’re given little choice but to think one thing. Girls? Fuc
k 'em. But hey, it was fun while it lasted.
The loudest rallying cry though, the one which should easily be recognized as one of the best songs of 2009, has to be ‘Young Hearts Spark Fire’. Some advice; play this one really, really loud. Everything here, from the first to the last, is solid anthemic gold. Climax after climax after climax arrives until the strings on your air-guitar finally snap and the sticks are thrown out the window, the headbang whiplash seizes your neck and the adrenaline overloads your heart. With the kind of chemistry only inseparable friends sharing unbreakable dreams can possess, the two lads cry “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.” Forget global warming, terrorism, swine flu. As Japandroids will tell you, there’ll be time for that when you’re dead. In the meantime, try this. Drop what you’re doing, pack your bags, call your friends, we’re going to Europe. The destination? Who knows. When we’ll be back? Who cares! Just enjoy it, you won’t be young forever. The French girls are calling for their French kisses. Don’t let them down.