The Top 50 Albums of 2012

11. Japandroids: Celebration Rock [Polyvinyl]

Brian King can't sing "The House That Heaven Built". The melody to Japandroids' best song is just above the frontman's vocal range. On a very physical level, it should not work. "When I first heard it back in the studio, I thought, 'This is terrible! We can't use it!'," he told me earlier this year. But they did use it, and thank god for that. Like nearly everything else about Japandroids, King's performance on "The House That Heaven Built" is the result of a normal man pushing himself to abnormal places-- places most of us are too scared or wary or lazy to go. "If they try to slow you down," he snarls on the song, "tell 'em all to go to hell!" He could be talking about an ex, nagging parents, society at large, or even his own vocal cords, but one thing is clear-- "they" do not have a chance.

As an indie rock band that idolizes both the Replacements and Guns 'N Roses, Japandroids are of a particularly modern ilk. Their crowd-pleasing, call-and-response choruses are completely devoid of the self-sabotaging indie mindset of yore, yet their decidedly austere attitude toward their own sound and presentation-- just two guys, very few overdubs-- couldn't be more DIY. The combination of Celebration Rock's extreme, arena-ready themes (heaven or hell! life or death!) and its workmanlike creation ("It might take a whole month to write a song we think is good," King has said) makes for confusing rock'n'roll mythmaking. According to the singer, "There's a difference between people who are born with that special thing and people who love the people who are born with that special thing so much that they want to try their best to get as close as they can to it." But it's hard to take King at his word since Celebration Rock does everything it can to obliterate that supposed divide.

The album flips Japandroids' limitations into superlatives; their in-studio restrictions mean that these eight songs crash just as hard live as they do in headphones. And King's newfound ambition with the pen means that his lines aren't just fun to sing back to him anymore-- they go way past "whoa-oh" to a place equally universal, but more trenchant. His words are about getting off your ass and actually doing something, to stop "waiting for a generation's bonfire to begin" and start sparking some fuses: "We don't cry for those nights to arrive/ We yell like hell to the heavens... HEY!" It often reads like self-fulfilling prophecy, because whether Japandroids were born that way or had to work like hell to achieve greatness is ultimately irrelevant-- they're there, and they're not looking back. --Ryan Dombal



東京 2/18 (mon) SHIBUYA WWW

INFORMATION: 03-3444-6751 (SMASH)
大阪 2/19 (tue) CONPASS
OPEN 18:30 / START 19:30 ¥5,250(前売・1D別途)
※詳細: www.smash-jpn.com


2012-12-21 : Japandroids :
« next  ホーム  prev »