Review Summary: I love you, man.Celebration Rock
begins with a definitive statement of intent, a manifesto that underscores the band’s vision almost completely: “Long lit up tonight and still drinking! Don’t we have anything to live for? Well of course we do, but ‘til they come true we’re drinking!
” Japandroids meet the question that troubles the young adult crowd by favoring the "now" – they frame binge drinking and partying not as signs of loss of ambition but as some needed escape from the stress of the weekly routine: “So we down our drinks in a funnel of friends and we burn our plants down to the end, and we don’t cry for those nights to arrive we yell like hell to the heavens!
” They follow through with that assertion immediately, diving headfirst into a euphoric string of “ohs!
” and “woahs!
”, at once reaffirming their mission statement and tearing it to shreds for the night. Celebration Rock
is a celebration of seizing the moment, of allowing yourself to give in to pure feeling so you can have a fu
cking great time.
With that intent is the underlying need for companionship (because life is so social). You don’t have to look further than the matching album covers of Celebration Rock
to recognize the kind of friendship esteemed by this band: that of the best buddy, the friend who helps “turn those restless nights into restless years.
” The fact that Japandroids is a duo is brilliantly appropriate: punk rock bands tend to revere the communal experience, where “we” is a signifier for group thought and action. When it comes to Brian King and David Prowse, “we” refers to a dual world perspective, one of taking on the challenges and desires inherent to men with understanding company. This is bromance music of the highest order, channeled through spitfire indie-punk driven by distorted guitar chords and raucous drumming. And it is frequently awe-inspiring, going for that feeling in your gut that has you submitting to impulse with glorious abandon.
It’s only appropriate then that I’d test my response with my own best buddy, blasting it through speakers over a round of foosball. His impression was a tease at my interpretation, referring to the band’s music as “just two bros, rocking out.” Overlooking the sarcasm, it’s that image that is the implicit draw of Japandroids: the idea that two guys who aren’t especially skilled at their instruments can record passionate music for the hell of it and somehow make it big. And projecting your friendship onto the band (see: our own Adrian and Josh) is part of the fun - that fantasy of Brian and David being "just like us" is exciting and inspiring. The lyrical recognition of the bond between them only reinforces this: "when they love you and they will tell them all that they’ll love in my shadow
”; it’s “you and me in a grave trust
”; you’re “arm in arm with me tonight.
” Male companionship is revered on Celebration Rock
, almost as the highest form of commitment and trust. Strains of this ideal were present on Post-Nothing
as well, just not as fully realized as they are here. After all, the reason we didn’t laugh off the lyric “after her, I quit girls
” was because we know the guy in question has his buddy support system to fall back on - those guys that will help tear down the bitch in the post-break up bar crawl and be there later on to wingman when he wants to approach that hot chick at the party. You can "quit" girls, sure, but you just don’t quit your boys.
In the flurry of cymbal clashes, reverb-heavy chords, and spirit of "punk rock," the grin-inducing experience of male friendship is idolized. Japandroids capture those special moments that you can only share with your best buddy: when knocking back a few beers leads to sloppy drunk wrestling on the floor; when you’re tag-teaming some chick and your astonished smiles lock for that perfect high five moment. There’s something special about male bonding that can’t be easily captured in words, which is why we need a garage punk duo to make music like this. “Younger Us” is the most visceral plea for this specific experience, a punk-pop ode to nostalgia that has Brian shouting sideways to David about how genuinely awesome "those times" were: “Remember saying things like ‘we’ll sleep when we’re dead,' and thinking this feeling was never gonna end? Remember that night you were already in bed said ‘f
uck it!’ got up to drink with me instead?
” A roaring, distorted guitar solo tears through the midpoint of the track, hitting straight for the gut in its instinctive glory. That’s an effect that Japandroids nail effortlessly, the projection of music as a physical experience, engaging you as a participator rather than simply as a listener. On Celebration Rock
, Japandroids have perfected their sound, and all that’s really left to do is live it with that friend you care about the most.