Maybe it’s something about the time of year or the anthemic pop that makes up Celebration Rock, the third release from Vancouver’s Japandroids, but it’s hard to ignore the stamp of summer on the record. Fittingly, the album begins with the distant sound of exploding fireworks, a conceptually risky move, but an effective one that sets the scene for the next 35 minutes of pure, unadulterated rock.
The fireworks quickly fade into the opening chords of The Nights of Wine and Roses, a lyrical juxtaposition of apathy and enthusiasm that jumps out of the gate fast, giving listeners a hint at what’s to come. Stand-out tracks for me on Celebration Rock include the Tom Petty-inspired Fire’s Highway; Adrenaline Nightshift, the story of a broken man played at 100 miles-per-hour; Younger Us, a tune reminiscent of mid-90s Hot Rod Circuit; and The House that Heaven Built, a driving and unrelenting exercise in pop that matter-of-factly describes a tale of personal apocalypse.
“If they try to slow you down, tell ‘em all they can go to hell.”
At many points in this record, it’s hard to believe Japandroids is just a duo made up of Brian King (guitar, vox) and David Prowse (drums, vox). King’s meaty guitar tones throughout thicken the impact of the songs and the duo’s gang vocals on almost every chorus round out the Japandroids aesthetic. And that aesthetic is chock-full of uptempo rockers and shouted “oh’s & ah’s” which coalesce into a perfect mix for a volume-up and windows-down road trip or summertime excursion.
There is no question Celebration Rock will be on heavy rotation during my vacation next week. The energy contained in this record is infectious and it’s clear to me that Celebration Rock is just that, a celebration of the purity inherent in rock ‘n roll.