Japandroids were on the cusp of splitting up when they released their career-igniting Post Nothing a few years back; a record which allowed them to do the one thing which they seem to care about doing most of all: tour like fuck. Recently, the band have admitted in interviews that the primary motivation to write and record this tremendous follow up Celebration Rock was to have enough new material to justify more extensive touring. And indeed, you only have to look at the two album covers to realise that Japandroids don't view Celebration Rock as a vast artistic leap forward from its predecessor – instead offering up another eight-tracked, high-adrenaline bombast of frantic rock. But in putting together a crop of material specifically crafted as fuel to the fire of their raucous live shows, Japandroids have also half-accidentally created a studio recording as excellent as you could ever expect this band to provide.
The ace up Celebration Rock's sleeve is that by extenuating and sharpening everything which made the tracks on Post Nothing such addictive juggernauts, Japandroids have also crafted tracks with a greater staying power for home listening; songs with a structural and melodic maturity absent from the repetitive shout-alongs of their debut. The logic is as sound as it is obvious: the instant vocal refrains of songs like 'Wet Hair' were incredibly complimentary to the party-starting sensibilities of Japandroids' music, so why not write songs with even more invigorating hooks? Like, as many as you can possibly fit into four minutes?
The spectacular results are songs like 'The Nights Of Wine and Roses', a track which doubles-down on Japandroids' penchant for empowering and chantable refrains (“we don't cry for those nights to arrive / we yell like hell to the heavens!”), and does so by swinging from one mile-wide hook to the next in lightning quick succession, creating an uncharacteristically well-drawn structure as it crams more gang-vocal honey traps into a single track than their debut ever attempted. Similarly, 'Evil Sway' is a highlight on the same terms – rolling out hook after blistering hook until it earns every drop of its overblown “OH YEAH! ALRIGHT!” chorus.
One of the primary reasons for Celebration Rock's success – in a glorious chicken and egg sort of situation – is that Japandroids have clearly toured themselves into an absolute powerhouse, and so whilst this album works from completely identical blueprints to its predecessor, it's infinitely tighter, far louder and way more confident as a preserved studio recording. The tracks on Post Nothing felt like they could've come apart at the edges at any second, and whilst this was undoubtedly an integral part of its charm, Celebration Rock draws far greater strength from being a more refined, streamlined and well-rendered beast. Post Nothing would have sounded faintly absurd had it opened and closed on a sample of fireworks explosions. Celebration Rock all but demands it.
Because while the songs on their debut played like mnemonic cycles of intensity, these tracks showcase a far more strident melodic command. And while the backing vocals on Post Nothing sounded like it was all they could do to be heard above the din, the 'Oh! Oh! Oh!'s of tracks like 'The House That Heaven Built' punch like exclamation marks – exclamation marks which punctuate every single bar, for eight tracks straight. Celebration Rock was recorded as an excuse to get back on the road, but its merits far surpass these modest aims: this is rock music worth celebrating.