Surprised to see a Japandroids review on Punktastic? Don’t be, they’re more punk than most, I assure you. This is Party Punk, Disco Punk even – if that’s not a certified genre yet then Japandroids need to stamp copyright on it pronto – but it’s punk all the same. Brian King and David Prowse make more racket and sing with more heart than most cooler-than-thou punk bands you care to mention, and they just might have made the album of the year, punk or no punk.
For those unfamiliar with the band, don’t think the White Stripes or the Black Keys or any other garage duo, think Husker Du jamming with Andrew WK, punk swagger with a pop sensibility. There are more hooks among these eight tracks than so many so-called punk bands will produce in a lifetime. I’m sure it was some punk-as-fuck band that once proclaimed their record to be ‘All Killer, No Filler’, well Japandroids were obviously listening and admiring their punk credentials – Celebration Rock could just as well be a singles collection. It is simply, in the words of our friend Tim Westwood, heavy hit after heavy hit. In ‘Fire’s Highway’ and ‘Evil’s Sway’ they have two of the most addictive tunes of the year, those “OOH YEAHHH, ALRIIIIGHT!” choruses and “WHOAOAOAAH…”(I think that’s the correct spelling…) singalongs. And when you think they’ve shot their wad, ‘Younger Us’ and ‘The House That Heaven Built’ come along to drag you back to your feet. It’s fuzzy and frenetic and utterly irresistible, high-fives and man-hugs but without the frat-boy brainlessness.
Celebration Rock is exactly that, a celebration, with adolescent groans and pining for forgotten youth thrown in the mix. “We down our drinks in a funnel of friends” King sings on the opening track, and on ‘Younger Us’ “Remember that night you were already in bed, said fuck it, got up to drink with me instead?” But for all the accolades this record deserves, it won’t be getting any for its lyrical content. It’s as if they’ve been cribbing from obscure Meat Loaf b-sides. “Hitch-hiked to hell and back, riding the wind… Wildness is our treasure so boldly surrender to me and to the night… A red-blooded daughter slowed my gunfire run to rest with her blitzkrieg love and a Roman candle kiss…” Well, I’m aroused. And my personal favourite, the classic couplet, “Heart’s terrain is never a prairie, but you weren’t wary…” Jeez, that’s appalling. But to scoff at the lyrics is to miss the point of the band. Celebration Rock is about fun and friends, growing up without regrets but with guitars and drums and a passion for live music played loud and with a smile. Make sure you’ve got it in for new year’s eve.