Near to the Wild Heart of Life – Japandroids (2017)



Japandroids’ first album in four years marks a significant change in tone for the Canadian Rock duo of Brian King and David Prowse, favoring a more polished studio sound over the Garage Rock-y vibes of their previous work. But that isn’t to say their Punk roots aren’t still here in full effect as King provides the Foo Fightersesque riffs and Billie Joe Armstrong-like vocals, they’re just more streamlined. Newcomers to the band like me will feel welcomed and right at home.

Just about every track on this album is a keeper; the title track’s story of leaving a small town for the big city is as relatable as you can imagine, the U2-esque “True Love and Free Life of Free Will” hits the mark, and the anthemic “In a Body Like a Grave” is an excellent way to close the album. I particularly appreciate King’s heavy use of alliteration through his songwriting; he develops a flow almost akin to a great rapper as every syllable that leaves his lips flows naturally and satisfyingly and are complimented by his excellent riffing, which provides the centerpiece to each song. “I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)” was originally supposed to just be an interlude and even with the added instrumentation it doesn’t quite breathe enough to become a full-fledged song. But “Arc of Bar” makes up for it, featuring a killer Electro-Rock pulse and a poetic lyricism that sounds almost Dylanesque. It’s more than worthy of its 7-and-a-half minute length, perfectly blending all of the elements that make Japandroids one of the most exciting bands in Rock n’ Roll.

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