Japandroids: Celebration Rock

Japandroids, Celebration RockJapandroids: Celebration Rock
Japandroids’s second album, Celebration Rock begins with “The Nights of Wine and Roses,” a sonic boom of a song about drinking and smoking with friends. The track is essentially about a life with no purpose with lyrics like “Don’t we have anything to live for?/Well, of course we do, but until it comes true/We’re drinking.” The song ends with Brian King yelling “we yell like hell to the heavens.” It is a seemingly banal line but it sets up an album that listens like a Miltonic journey.
A life without purpose seems to be King’s lake of fire, but the journey out of the lake begins with “Fire’s Highway.” King sings “hearts from hell collide on fire’s highway tonight.” This is where the listener becomes aware this is not one man’s journey but like most stories, it includes love. King sings “a soul of fire and eyes of flame/tend to overwhelm her tender frame,” as if this unnamed woman (who we later find is named Ivy) is an angel corrupted by King’s evilness. Yet the encounter with this woman, “warmed [his] body with her spirit’s heat.”
The four proceeding songs talk a bit about love and yearning, all in Japandroids’ signature wall-of-guitar style. Lyrically, the album’s turning point seems to be “The House That Heaven Built.” The track is the first direct reference to heaven but it, also, seems to be King’s “if you love something, set it free” moment. He screams in the track’s chorus: “When they love you, and they will/Tell ’em all they’ll love in my shadow/And if they try to slow you down/Tell ’em all to go to hell.” As if telling Ivy that although he can not be saved, she can and though she might find another to love her, she will always be bound to him.
That sentiment is solidified with the album’s closing track, “Continuous Thunder.” King sings: “if the cold, pissing rain flooded that fire/would you still take my hand tonight?” It is the type of hypothetical every broken-hearted person goes through; if the circumstances were just slightly different, could this have worked?
King’s redemption ultimately comes from letting Ivy go. The album’s redemption is the song writing. Whether or not the Ghost Rider-esque love story is your cup of tea, Celebration Rock is a sonically bombastic album, filled with youthful energy and expert songwriting.
Rating: 9.0/10
MP3: Japandroids “Fire’s Highway”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl

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