Celebration Rock

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JapandroidsBrian King and David Prowse admitted that they were at the point of breaking up just after recording Post-Nothing, when it suddenly exploded and became a critically adored sensation. Never fans of recording, the unexpected success -- largely due to Pitchfork’s promotion of the track “Young Hearts Spark Fire” -- gave the duo a chance to tour for two years and get a taste of what they considered fun, playing the music for as many people as possible. When they returned to the studio for their follow-up, they aimed for new songs that stadium crowds would feel; huge, simple shout-along anthems, with springy “whoa-oh ohs” and “oh yeahs” as hooks, sung from a drunken partier’s perspective. Hence the Andrew W.K.-ish title. Post-Nothing was similarly messy and celebratory, but Celebration Rock dumbs down the formula even more, often staying within the confines of two open chords for a full four- or five-minute song. This gives the record a constant fist-pumping drive, akin to the Gaslight Anthem or Titus Andronicus. All of the glorious innocence is still there, right down to the repeat template artwork, the same less-is-more production by Jesse Gander, and another raw, spirited, chin-first performance by the duo. With the exception of the oddly placed but well-performed cover of the Gun Club's “For the Love of Ivy,” the songwriting is extremely straightforward. So much so that Celebration Rock could arguably lack the powerful impact of the first record. Still, it’s a hell of lot of fun, and played loud, as it should be, lines like “we’re drinking and we’re still smoking/don’t we have anything to live for? Well, of course we do” are perfect depictions of the uplifting ruckus, youthful exuberance, and sheer passion these boys deliver time and time again.

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