Wreckord Reviews: The wild heart of Japandroids

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ANTI-RECORDS
The album cover captures Japandroids' signature black and white aesthetic.

Japandroids have always entertained a sense of cynicism and humour in their music. With album titles like Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock, it’s easy to tell they don’t take themselves too seriously, which makes them a joy to listen to.

After three years of silence it seems that things are different now. On Jan. 27 an older, more refined Japandroids appeared on the new full-length album entitled Near to the Wild Heart of Life.

The wild unabashed flame of their youth has been flickering since the first album with lyrics like, “We used to dream, now we’re worrying about dying”, but it seems like that angsty flame may be on the precipice of extinguishing finally. Japandroids used to rage against it and this has shone through in their writing. Near to the Wild Heart of Life explores the future through different eyes. Its narrative is that of excitement and self-discovery, less anger and a renewed reverence for relationships. Lines like, “After her, I quit girls” have turned to, “I’m sorry for not finding you sooner, I’ve been looking for you my whole life”.

Near to the Wild Heart of Life isn’t a straight shot of amps turned to 11 and vocalist Brian King yelling anthems for eight tracks. The latest album is a far more diverse and thoughtful compilation than anything prior, something which came from a new writing style for the duo. Brian King (guitar/vocals) and David Prowse (drums/vocals) were living in different cities for the first time and this created a sense of excitement and urgency when they had chances to write. This comes across flawlessly in the new material making it refreshing and thrilling as the band explores new avenues that were never seen on previous releases.

In an interview with Stereogum, the band said they produced the first albums thinking solely of how it would play out on stage. The studio was essentially a way to capture their live show; hence the tracks were just guitar, drums and no over dubs. This time, the boys threw out the rulebook and started exploring the studio as if it were a candy store, really utilizing everything at their disposal.

The result is perhaps their most distinct album to date. Their classic high-energy distorted guitars have made way for louder acoustic guitars, bass and even instances of synthesizers on tracks like “True Love and a Life of Free Will” and the near eight-minute saga “Arc of the Bar”. The duo even borders on folk-rock in “Midnight to Morning” with shimmering guitars and love struck lyrics. Incidentally this track encompasses one of the strongest anthems on the album, “Bring me back home to you”, a lyric that reinforces how drastically the band has progressed since they came onto the scene nearly a decade ago.

Although Near to the Wild Heart of Life may have lost some of the witty lyricism found in Post-Nothing it makes up for this fact in every single second of passion and production from “North East South West” to “In a Body Like a Grave”. This album is exactly what indie- rock needs right now.

Rating: 4 out of 5