It seems that Brian King and David Prowse have gone full Hooters(the band not the restaurant chain.) They’ve turned their DIY, punk-inspired anthems into full-on roots rockers. From 2009s Post-Nothing clear through to 2012s breakout Celebration Rock, Japandroids have cultivated this caffeinated, punk-meets-Springsteen-meets-Replacements sweat and blood-stained love letters to getting drunk, falling in love, punching your way through the ether, and doing it all over again the next day. Post-Nothing was the sing-along album, a celebration of youth. The letting loose of the id as someone in their early 20s. Celebration Rock was packing up and hitting the road. Leaving it all behind for your dreams, regardless of the cost or who you leave behind. Nearly five years later King and Prowse are releasing their third album as Japandroids. It’s called Near To The Wild Heart Of Life and while it still celebrates youth and dreams, it’s also an ode to finding contentment wherever your feet may land.
Title track and album opener “Near To The Wild Heart Of Life” busts open the doors and announces itself without wasting a single moment. It’s a clear-eyed ode to no matter where you’re at, home is with you. Don’t let fear stop you from your dreams.”I was destined to die dreaming/when one day my best friend/with passion and pure provocation summoned me and said/You can’t condemn your love/To linger here and die” King sings over a rapid fire drums and fuzzed-out guitars. It’s the proto-Japandroids tune. Fist pumping and soul charging. “I’m Sorry(For Not Finding You Sooner)” is a short-but-sweet love song that builds and builds on itself. It’s a much richer Japandroids, sonically speaking. “Arc Of Bar” goes even further into sonically rich territory. It’s the longest song on the album at just over 7 minutes. There’s a looped guitar part that leads the track as King and Prowse build on the riff with gang vocals and towering guitars. The guys don’t seem to be afraid to stretch out their sound on this album, which is a pleasant surprise. “No Known Drink Or Drug” is pure petrol-fueled rock and roll. It’s the kind of anthem Japandroids are so good at making.
It seems Japandroids have traded their love of closing bars and battling hangovers and broken hearts with another round for that elusive thing called love. They’ve settled their restless hearts with contentment. Calling home wherever your feet may land, and wherever she stands by your side. Getting old suits Brian King and David Prowse just fine.
8. 2 out of 10