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Japandroids - Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (Album Review)

Monday, 30 January 2017 Written by Ben Gallivan

Has it really been five years since ‘Celebration Rock’? Brian King and David Prowse left quite an impression on our eardrums with what would ultimately become one of the albums of 2012 - it was certainly winner of ‘Best Driving With The Top Down Anthems’ in my car - and subsequently toured heavily, racking up a couple of hundred sets over the following 18 months.

Then silence. After the touring stopped, the band disappeared to rest and write, allowing anticipation to gradually build. The result is their third LP, ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’, their first for ANTI- after a long-time association with indie royalty Polyvinyl.

And, despite extensive scientific research, it’s still impossible to put a finger on just how two people can make such an unholy racket while still managing to make it sound clean and melodic.

Japandroids sound genuinely excited about wanting to play you their songs here. The instrumentation and vocals come across with such urgency that the duo appear capable of one day churning out a record under a minute long.

Thankfully, ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’ presents a 40 minute wall of sound dissected into eight chunks of rawk. The opener, lead single and title track (all the same song) is a good gauge for what is to come with its passionate vocals, distortion-drenched guitar and hard-hitting percussion – it pretty much starts where ‘Celebration Rock’ left off.

Japandroids have never stuck out as having stadium-sized ambitions, but North East South West is pure Springsteen. This then turns to a pumped-up take on Irish folk on True Love and A Free Life Of Free Will, perhaps the weakest song on the record, before King’s distorted guitar bleeds into his voice for the shortest, but one of the stand-out tracks in this set: the heartfelt and yearning I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner).

The second half kicks off with the seven-minute epic Arc of Bar and continues to pound and amaze, with the most accessible song here - No Known Drink or Drug - coming as close to old-school Japandroids as you’re likely to get. The record’s latter throes lack the variety of the first stanza, but that’s not really what one comes to expect from Japandroids. What we actually want is loud, shouty, singalong fun and there’s plenty of that to choose from.

Japandroids Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri April 28 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sun April 30 2017 - GLASGOW Glasgow Garage
Mon May 01 2017 - LEEDS Stylus
Tue May 02 2017 - NOTTINGHAM Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thu May 04 2017 - MANCHESTER Manchester Gorilla
Fri May 05 2017 - BRIGHTON Brighton Concorde 2
Sat May 06 2017 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Click here to compare & buy Japandroids Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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