Japandroids Near to the Wild Heart of Life Anti-

06 10

Whatever your take on Japandroids, few modern bands have galvanised the rabid spirit of youth like the Canadian two-piece. Coming half a decade since Celebration Rock, Near to the Wild Heart of Life reprises Japandroids’ status as a legacy band.

The duo’s sonic palette is expanded here but the fundamentals remain the same: eight tracks and monochromatic artwork; blown-red guitars and frantic drumming; hollered, wordless backing vocals and earnest singalongs. North East South West is perhaps the best thing here, with guitarist/vocalist Brian King perfectly encapsulating the allure of home and the glorious inconsequentiality of the life of a band on the road (“It ain’t shit, it’s just kicks, like the world I’m going on and on,” he sings). Elsewhere, Midnight to Morning sees Beezewax-style power pop replace the spare moments of Midwestern emo from their first record, while a sole curveball comes in the form of Bar Arc, a mid-paced, seven-minute strutter that blends Britpop with the cocksure stadium glam of Guns N Roses.

While the stadium-friendly bombast of Near to the Wild Heart of Life might turn off a lot of listeners, off the back of the most wretched year in living memory Japandroids’ anthemic punk optimism is a momentary relief from the terror of now. The boys are back in town.

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