It’s a miracle that Celebration Rock even exists. After two unappreciated EPs, Japandroids’ debut album, 2009’s Post-Nothing, was supposed to be their swan song — a last ditch effort before exiting the stage and calling it quits. But Post-Nothing unexpectedly won the affection of both yearning critics and head-banging fans, changing the course of Japandroids’ career. The Vancouver duo overcame a bout of writers’ block to deliver their second album, another lean, empowering, face-melting 35 minutes of powerful nostalgia. Celebration Rock maintains the exact same quality as their debut, but it appeals to a broader audience. The vocals are clearer, the choruses bigger, the lyrics more identifiable.
Celebration Rock encapsulates teenage optimism and angst in a profoundly effective way. The boys are not skilled at being virtuosic musicians, as they readily admit themselves. Their aptitude comes from a unique ability to create an atmosphere that potently recalls the sweet, destructive turmoil of adolescence.
“The Nights of Wine and Roses” starts the album off with a bang — or to be more precise, a few bangs as the sound of fireworks give way to an epic guitar riff and calls to “yell like hell to the heavens,” after which the energy never relents. “Fire’s Highway” describes a girl with “eyes of flame” and a “tender frame,” with whom there is “one night … to let live, but never let go.” And “Adrenaline Nightshift” frantically alludes to a “blitzkrieg love” and a “generation’s bonfire.” In any other context, the wide-eyed lyrics may be slightly embarrassing, but it’s impossible to be cynical when the songs make you feel so refreshingly alive.
Celebration Rock is an adrenaline rush from beginning to end, best accompanied by a Friday with endless possibilities. It’s a pitch-perfect soundtrack to your late-night antics. Slip it in the car stereo, roll the windows down and enjoy the invigorating chords of youth.