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On Second Listen: Japandroids – Post-Nothing

on January 13, 2010, 12:45pm

When you’re young, you don’t need reminders to seize the day. Carpe Diem is as natural as breathing and any mistake is immediately followed by an endless supply of second chances. Then, years start to pass and your willingness to take risks becomes scarce (at least for most of us; there are the eternally young at heart whom the rest of us envy). Your desire to have fun is replaced by a desire to be smart and your decision-making process becomes focused on long-term goals rather than immediate gratification. What are we to do to keep in touch with the kid inside of us? Well, I listen to loud, fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll.

That is not to pigeon-hole Japandroids‘ 2009 release, Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl), as throw-back album or a record to be used as a tool more than enjoyed. When they make their most well-known observation, “we used to dream, now we worry about dying,” it is easy to forget that “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is also a damn catchy and electrifying thrill-ride of a song. Whether or not you are caught up in the lyrical journey of staying up late and living for the moment, the song’s immediacy stems as much from the exuberance from which it is performed as from the lyrics. And, when the bands two members, David Prowse and Brian King, shout the song’s title together, pumping your arm in solidarity is less a choice than a necessity.

The album is full of anthems like this. Opener “The Boys Are Leaving Town” begins with a muted, pulsing guitar tone that when kicking into full volume evokes both hasty exit and triumphant arrival. It is easy to imagine the song scoring a weekend road trip, a return home from battle or a fleeing from oppressive parents, teachers, or jail guards. “Wet Hair” keeps things lighter, desiring merely to get to France and “french kiss some french girls.” Hardly poetry, but it’s also hardly easy to dismiss the hedonistic simplicity of it all.

One divisive point on Post-Nothing could be the low-fi recording style, that at this point is a love-it or hate-it aesthetic choice, remarkably popular in recent years. This technique only emphasizes the nostalgic qualities of this record and hardly detracts from any of the individual songs. Good songwriting is good songwriting, no matter the recording quality and we live at a time where listeners have increasing patience to redefine what they expect an album to sound like. Many bands exploit this in their favor, but Japandroids use the tool to increase of album’s overall effectiveness.

Finally, the album is most successful when heard through a filter: simple desires that often go unstated. The album’s two mid-tempo stoner jams, “Crazy/Forever” and “I Quit Girls” make their living on being easily relatable. The line “we’ll stick together forever, stay sick together, stay crazy forever” not only speaks to the desire to remain young and carefree, but to remain in solidarity with the friends and loved ones we experience our youth with. And why can’t we feel young forever? Well, even if it’s impossible to remain without the worries that life forces upon to you, it is comforting to know that the feeling of youth is just an album away.

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