Review of Near To The Wild Heart Of Life Album by Japandroids

There has been fewer more prescient titles when predicting the future that Japandroids Post Nothing, the words they used to name their 2009 debut and which now reflect the mess we're in eight years later, except in reverse. Surely it's not hard to see after all that instead of being post nothing, we're now post everything; news, art, friendship, invention, music. Rather it seems - to be more blunt - that we don't have the world at our neatly manicured feet as we might've expected way back then, instead we have no idea what we're inheriting, other than confusion, strife and cynicism.

Japandroids Near To The Wild Heart Of Life Album

Strange then, if cynicism is the new sincerity, that a band as consciously stylised as Canadian duo Brian King and Dave Prowse have rendered Japandroids would end their nearly four years of silence with a new record that so devoutly embraces radically traditional values, in the process making Near To The Wild Heart of Life a bold tilt at fresh converts.

Not all of the delay has been due to a contrived throttling of their product for needy audiences: King now splits his time between Toronto and Mexico City whilst his partner has remained in their native Vancouver. Like all of their processes seem to be, recording is also a deliberate one, although the ferocious drum fills that stripe the titular opener's introduction speak to both a familiar intensity and also newly found abandonment. It's a vibrant call to arms, full of elemental words like fire, love and hell, the sort of blue collar semantics which Trans-continental gauche has used since a tousle haired Bruce Springsteen first emerged.

This late twentieth century vibe was always an aspect of the Japandroids aesthetic of course, but here it slides in and out of focus, most relatable to their past via the pin clear sharpness of North East South West's travelogue rebel yell and No Known Drink Or Drug's tilt at the melodic hardcore of Sugar. It's when the reflection blurs however that the effects take the duo to stark new territories, partially by the advent of using synthesisers, acoustic guitars and bass. The fuzz is a welcoming, expansive one: I'm Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner) rasps with white noise and imprecision, an epically smudged cipher, whilst the seven minutes plus of Arc Of Bar quite literally takes them someone they've never been before, a cosmic paradise with "Hustlers, whores/In rooms galore/Singing city stink/diamonds, dust and drink..", the fantasy played out over towering loops and a primal throb, a song unlike anything they're ever delivered before.

If anything it deserves to gain a life of its own more than any of its peers, something which tears at the gnawing symmetry of their eight track albums, at the primacy of their black and white image, a blaze of colour, lights, something lost, off the radar, catching the illusory part of the American dream. Japandroids prove with it that even if we are living times of rare uncertainty they know how to key in to the past and the present like radio operators from our sub conscious; it confirms that Near To The Wild Heart Of Life isn't always on the razor's edge, but more that its creators have surrendered to the end of reason, brilliantly.