It’s arrived. 5 years after the release of their last album Celebration Rock, the Canadian duo of Brian King and David Prowse return with one of the most highly anticipated albums of the new year with the explosive Near to the Wild Heart of Life. While their last effort was the culmination of everything that made rock music great, this next installment is a step towards something new. The Japandroids keep it concise as usual, with only 8 tracks at a mere 36 minutes, continuing the trend that they have followed since their debut record Post-Nothing. They themselves credit this habit to the fact that it is a “template” for great rock albums like Metallica’s Master of Puppets and Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.
Everything that made Celebration Rock a success is amplified on this new record. One of the most enjoyable parts of the last album was its ability to re-invent musical clichés and build those clichés into something fresh. With …Wild Heart…, the Japandroids move past that teenage feeling of youthfulness they had established with the last record, and do so without losing sight of the unique energy they bring on every song. The album is a fantastic progression for the group, with the instrumentals sounding even more grandiose, an impressive feat considering it only consists of one guitar and a drummer. The Japandroids offer a more calculated and polished product this time around, with catchier hooks and songs that seem to build on each other.
The record should really come with a warning; “Beware! Songs may induce excessive head banging.” The frantic rock anthems ring true once again. It seems that the group hasn’t lost their touch. The time off seems to have led to a little bit of wisdom, both lyrically and musically. Their trademark fuzzy guitar riffs and unrelenting drum lines infect the album. With some songs, they even reached outside their usual range, with “Arc of Bar” containing heavily processed electric guitars. But as it is the case with every song on the album, it contains the unmistakable feeling of recklessness. It inspires defiance towards the traditional strain of rock music, pushing into new ground.
Test Track: I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)