Japandroids
Near To The Wild Heart Of Life


2.3
average

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
January 26th, 2017 | 88 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The hangover sets in.

Strangely inert for a band that practically built their brand on hurtling recklessly forward, Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the sound of a comfortable band stretching the limits of their sound and their fans’ goodwill. How many Pabst-in-the-air anthems can you stomach in one sitting" At a Japandroids show, this is generally a rhetorical question. Brian King’s infectious, vein-bulging yelps and David Prowse’s blistering skin work, the sound of a unit of artillery set off by one man, are enough to make even the most cynical child of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s unironically raise their clenched fist. A lyric like “must get to France / so we can French kiss some French girls” is stupid and fun, and there’s that sweaty wink amid the guileless sincerity, punctuated by a band that sounded like they could defeat all the evil of the world with just a guitar, a drum set, and the lack of anything approaching irony. A lyric like “I used to be good but now I’m bad,” from the title track" Well, I’d probably have to be a fair bit drunker to appreciate that one.

It’s hard to put a finger on just where Japandroids went wrong. Celebration Rock was hardly a revolution after 2009 debut Post-Nothing; if anything, the anthems were louder, the band was looser, the girls were feistier and the drinking was more or less the same, yet you rarely felt as if Japandroids were taking you for granted. The songs were vibrant, alive, a celebration, yes, of rock ‘n roll, built on a fairly simple alchemical reaction between garage punk and heartland rock. Nothing’s changed here, except the mixture is no secret, the glitzy production can’t hide the seams on King’s songwriting, and Prowse sounds less like a gorilla and more like a drummer. What was once heartfelt now sounds clichéd, none worse than the wannabe epic “Arc of Bar,” where King mistakes a cheesy ‘80s road movie for a deep slice-of-life narrative by writing seven-and-a-half minutes of tortured similes and grade-school poetry. The opening third, from the title track through “True Love and a Free Life of Free Will” feels rote, sounds like the Japandroids seemingly distilled down to their essence but never sparking, never moving beyond just another typical Japandroids song. They sound like songs meant to soundtrack a car commercial, sweeping vistas of canyons and rugged blacktop, and a crass inversion of the band’s roots.

A simple diagnosis would be that the Japandroids have kicked over one too many mic stands at this point in career, a classic case of diminishing returns. Yet there are songs here - the hypnotic drone of “I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner),” the jangle and an unashamed earnestness that feels earned in “In A Body Like A Grave” - where you can forgive the band their single dimension, because, occasionally, a really killer single comes along. While too much of the record is vaguely colorless, an imitation of stronger and more lived-in feelings and stories, “No Known Drink or Drug” succeeds because it has that ineffable energy that sparks young hearts, culminating in one of those so-obvious-it’s-brilliant lyric that you can’t help but drum along to Prowse’s rolls. The “na-na-na’s” and the generous layer of fuzz help, too, tricking you into thinking it’s 2009 again, and the whole world was in front of you waiting to get its ass kicked. It’s an illusion, of course, a temporary escape from a record that feels as lackluster and mechanical as much of its fanbase likely did after 2016, content to go through the motions and live for the weekend. No, Near to the Wild Heart of Life succeeds only in proving that the Japandroids of 2017 will have a hard time matching their former glories.




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user ratings (154)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2017


11996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.3

"No Known Drink or Drug" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKs0IKmPek8



womp womp

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theacademy
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2017


31394 Comments


good, fuck em!!!

DoofusWainwright
January 26th 2017


20001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That album cover - title should be 'Haven't We Aged a Lot Since the Last One'

conditionals
January 26th 2017


555 Comments


Where the hell is the standard Japandroids/album title font and layout on the album cover. Giving me the shits - looks like a placeholder promo photo.

JWT155
January 26th 2017


14182 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Corporately Fine Tuned and Marketed: Japandroids Edition

luci
January 26th 2017


10363 Comments


crap album, you explain its failures well

bloc
January 26th 2017


53420 Comments


Damn these are some low ass ratings

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TheWrenKing
January 26th 2017


1696 Comments


don't know if i want to listen to this

MO
January 26th 2017


22457 Comments


" How many Pabst-in-the-air anthems can you stomach in one sitting?"

lolol

eddie95
January 26th 2017


703 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

dull album

SandorClegane
January 26th 2017


206 Comments


'the drinking was more or less she same'

McMegaMountain
January 26th 2017


289 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's definitely a bit dry. I liked it enough alright, but this bands gotten boring.

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2017


11996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.3

typo fixed, thanks Hound

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2017


56232 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

savage

AngryJohnny
January 26th 2017


859 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh dear. Hope you aren't right about this but I've feared that you might be since I heard the first single

ashcrash9
January 26th 2017


3021 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

simple fact of the matter is Japandroids are a one-trick pony, and there's not much reason to return to this weaker version of a thing they do well elsewhere



that said, I still have a stupid blast with most of this, but I can already see it lacking the replay value of Celebration Rock

Gyromania
January 26th 2017


26121 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

early let down of the year

AdolfChrist
January 26th 2017


18423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

eh. probably wont bother with this. their first two were fun records but theyve never been anything more than a good car jam or something to play while drinking with friends.

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Crawl
January 26th 2017


2545 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think this might end up at a 3.5 or so for me. Love thr title track, other tracks are just solid.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2017


24238 Comments


aw is this actually that bad? ):



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