Near to the Wild Heart of Life Reminiscent of Early Japandroids
Canadian rock band Japandroids have an impressive collection of indie rock under their belts. Whether it is their 2009 album Post-Nothing or their 2012 release Celebration Rock, the group boast an enviable sound and discography. Their fourth record, Near to the Wild Heart of Life, is yet another impressive release from the duo.
What started as a band that wanted to capture the manic energy and raw sound of garage rock slowly transformed into the one that we know today. After a rocky start that almost ended the duo’s careers before they even began, Japandroids were officially formed in 2006 by Brian King and David Prowse and they later found mainstream success in 2009 with their debut album Post-Nothing. As they began to tour, the group became known for their wild and raw performances. That same energy is apparent on Near to the Wild Heart of Life.
The opening title track “Near to the Wild Heart of Life” catapults the listener into the frenetic world of Japandroids. With the upbeat, pop punk guitar and drums paired with angst-ridden lyrics, the listener enters this world and holds on tight for the remainder of the album. “North East South West” is a song that travels all throughout the U.S., detailing stories of drug dealers, “unshaven shaman[s]” and “madness.” Lyrically, this track is one of the most detailed and plot-driven songs on the record. Other numbers, like “I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)” and “Midnight to Morning,” are cast under scratchy, unrefined guitar and drums, proving to be prime examples of garage rock. One of the best songs on the record, however, is “No Known Drink or Drug,” a track that is reminiscent of ‘90s lo-fi rock and the band’s early work. It is also quite similar to some of the songs featured on their other releases, transporting the listener to a Post-Nothing world.
While other bands have a traditional setup of lead singer, lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bass player and drummer, Japandroids employ a different type of band. Instead of finding a vocalist to act exclusively as the lead singer, both King and Prowse share the duties and switch regularly. This allows each musician to showcase his respective talents and take the music in a slightly different direction. While their music is not particularly cerebral, it does not diminish its likability. It is Japandroids’ ability to create music without sacrificing originality that makes them stand out and appeal to the masses.