Young Hearts: Japandroids Rock ‘Post-Nothing’
Perhaps you missed Japandroids during their swing through San Francisco and the intimate Hemlock Tavern earlier this month. But it’s not too late to catch a pungent whiff of the Vancouver guitar-drum duo’s supercharged sound, thanks to the Japandroids’ recently released debut full-length, Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl).
What started life as an “outlet for post-teenage angst” for Brian King and David Prowse, has become something of a post-punk juggernaut: the twosome gets a whole lotta major rock ‘n’ roll sound out of simply a drum kit, guitar, and two vocalizers. A clue to the pair’s rock inspirations: Post-Nothing’s opener, “The Boys Are Leaving Town,” could be the upbeat-on-the-downbeat rejoinder to Thin Lizzy’s anthemic “The Boys Are Back in Town.” The boys here are using AOR and classic rock as a departure point while heading out to personal points both known and unknown. Imagine the Who -- or Dinosaur Jr. -- compacted and compressed into a pair of black hoodies, and you have the Great Northwest’s pop-lovin’, fuzzed-muffed counterpart to the even noisier, more experimental Sic Alps in our own NorCal backyard.
Japandroids hew closer to home, however, with their sing-along lyrics and sentiments like, “Oh, we used to dream / Now we worry about dying / I don’t wanna worry about dying / I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls” (“Young Hearts Spark Fire”). Propelled with Prowse's furious fills and King's burly clouds of distortion, this song might be the ideal soundtrack for Ryan McGinley’s photographs of beatific, nude young people running and cavorting amid waves of gleaming grain or glittering star fields. Japandroids discover the universal in the specifics of experience with tunes like “Wet Hair,” “Rockers East Vancouver” and “Heart Sweats” -- songs that throb with memories of late nights riding around in a borrowed Fiesta, cheap canned beer, and raging hormones in search of another warm, simpatico body.
King and Prowse end, revealingly, with a bittersweet, buzzing yet more minimal track titled, “I Quit Girls” -- a departure, for sure, from these love songs without a center or love object. Yet after Post-Nothing, you’re almost reluctant to leave this exquisite moment between the fluid anxieties of adolescence and the reliable grounding of adulthood.