Review: Japandroids—’Near to the Wild Heart of Life’

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The title track/single showed promise that Near to the Wild Heart of Life would deliver more of the upbeat, noisy, rock that made us love Japandroids in the first place. Fortunately, the album did in fact deliver on that promise. Each track sounds remarkably like its opposite number on Celebration Rock, with few notable exceptions. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Japandroids for their sound, but I can’t help but feel when I bought this album that I bought a re-skinned Celebration Rock. Now there was a lot to love about Celebration Rock, and much of it carries through to Near to the Wild Heart of Life, but I was hoping to see this band grow a little more since there’s been so much time between records.

That being said, I’d be lying if I said they sound exactly the same. Their sound has become more refined, the drums are quieter, the guitar isn’t as messy, and lead singer David Prowse’s voice is no longer lost among the cacophony of instrumentals. I’m hesitant to say they’ve lost a bit of their edge, but something about their previously hectic style is missing. For some people that might be a good thing; it’s a little more organized, and a little easier to listen to the poetry that Japandroids has disguised as lyrics.

It’s important to realize that all I’m doing here is nitpicking on an otherwise great album. I definitely am glad to own Near to the Wild Heart of Life, and I think you will be too. My favorite track off this album is “Arc of Bar” which is a welcome departure from the normal sound of Japandroids that ventures slightly into electronic territory, but is a pleasant listen nonetheless. Give this one a listen on YouTube at least, and I don’t think you’ll regret it


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