Japandroids' second full-length album CELEBRATION ROCK finds the band picking up exactly where they left off in 2009 with POST-NOTHING. The band's stripped down, raw arrangements continue here, as do the plain black-and-white album covers. I'm sure many people will point this out, but the best way to describe this album is by the title; this album is 8 tracks of joy, fun, and celebration. With that admission, this album is fun, but it never comes across as stupid or empty; this album is populist but never pandering. Who says happy music can't seriously rock?
These tracks are life-affirming, and they feel together like a love-letter for the bygone 20-something ages. Accordingly, this album is propulsive, full of energy and glee, evoking memories of super-early mornings, slightly-buzzed conversations, and fist-pumping celebrations. CELEBRATION ROCK doesn't wear out its welcome, clocking in at a little over half an hour playing time; it's short and sweet.
The album begins with the popping of distant fireworks which then melt into the band's percussion. This introductory track, "The Night of Wine and Roses," showcases fantastic hooks and noise-rock-propulsive rhythms that continue well until the closer, "Continuous Thunder." "Evil's Sway" showcases a nice guitar riff before launching into one of the album's best songs. "For the Love of Ivy" features tinges of rockabilly vibes. "Younger Us" is a love-letter to bygone days of late-night friendships. "The House That Heaven Built" is the lead single from the album, and for good reason: it's a seriously strong melody that will keep with listeners after the song is over. "Continuous Thunder" is a bit different from the rest of the tracks -- it's not as immediate or percussive. The song is different from the rest of the album -- it's more midtempo and patient, but the contrast works to wonderful effect. The final moments of the song gradually give way to the same popping of distant fireworks that started the album. It's a beautiful way to end CELEBRATION ROCK.
Fans of the Gaslight Anthem, the Hold Steady, the Replacements, or F***ed Up will probably really love CELEBRATION ROCK. Standout tracks to sample: "The Nights of Wine and Roses," "Continuous Thunder," "The House That Heaven Built," and "Evil's Sway." For previous listeners of Japandroids, you will know exactly what you've getting with this album. For newcomers, this album proves to be a great place to start; this album is just as good as their first full-length album.