I am a little upset that I missed the recent love affair between No Age and Death from Above 1979. Luckily, I have been acquainted with the offspring that emerged fully formed from the aforementioned procreation – Japandroids. A mixture of uncompromising percussion and static vocals from two self-proclaimed “sweethearts still naive enough to think they’ll never sell out” reverberate from the band’s favourite place in the world – your sister’s bedroom. When the two-piece band is not in your sister’s bedroom, you can find them in East Vancouver where they formed in 2006 as a creative outlet for post-teenage angst.
If you are not convinced Japandroids are a sight and sound to behold by this sentence, I refer you to the above photograph of them standing behind a flaming drum set. The image contains generous amounts of unadulterated – for lack of a better word – awesome. The thought of David Prowse banging on the depicted inferno while Brian King’s guitar coaxes flames to his bidding could be an accurate portrayal of what Japandroids sound like, and it would not be a stretch to assume similar occurrences at their live shows.
The band released their full-length album Post-Nothing on Unfamiliar Records in late April following two self-released EPs in 2007 and 2008 entitled All Lies and Lullaby Death Jams, respectively. The albums do-it-yourself mentality coupled with an energetic delivery produces a Smashing Pumpkins on steroids late nineties garage-rock spectacular. Approaching Post-Nothing philosophically, the album in disagreement with title leaves you with everything, barring full spiritual enlightenment perhaps. All of that on the low-budget package of a single set of drums, a guitar, and a couple of fanatical vocalists.
Japandroids abundant use of distortion, infectious hooks, and potent drum fills deliver a sound that is exuberant in its lack of insecurities. Much like a loveable high school nerd showing up to a graduation dance with crooked glasses and calculator in hand, tearing up the dance floor with eyes closed and hips swinging to his own free will, Japandroids are uninhibited. Amidst thoughts of running away to France to “French kiss some French girls” as repeated heavily in the track ‘Wet Hair’, the record is an excitable reintroduction to the senseless childhood nostalgia lost through self-consciousness.
Melodies and lyrics aside, the duo knows how rock out. The intricacies and thematic structure traditionally praised in music are in stark contrast to Japandroids unsophisticated noise. Not once have I picked up a record that has inspired primitively bashing along on any object in my vicinity like Post-Nothing. The band’s appeal stems from their brazen conviction and energy in their recordings, prompting a challenge to listeners – try to keep your hands off the volume dial. Even at low volumes the pairs cymbal-crashing and guitar blaring begs to blow tweeters and impact woofers. Japandroids sound like a duo as much as The Tallest Man on Earth sounds like a musical collective. The all-consuming rhythms driven tirelessly by the two are homage to imperfections banged out so convincingly they could make Mozart and Beethoven strive to produce unsophisticated noise of this calibre.
Japandroids music is about contradictions and girls. Who expected one of this year’s best albums to include a set of microphones and droning falsetto lines about “needing rides to Bikini Island”? Japandroids will be rocking out across North America on tour starting this June, catch their show and don’t forget to bring your sister.