Japandroids - Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (2017)


Japandroids had a near impossible task in front of them while working on the follow up to the universally beloved Celebration Rock and that was following up the universally beloved Celebration Rock. Because in a world where rock is a four letter word, there are no two more embracing of it than Brian King and David Prowse.

Near To The Wild Heart Of Life comes a full five years after Celebration Rock, a time lapse noticeable in the post-album climate. Wild Heart is a Japandroids’ record, without a doubt. The opening title-track is a raucous blast of energy that has become their signature. Initially, it appears as though they never left but also acts as a misdirection. The next few songs unabashedly feature acoustic guitars and slower tempos. “North East South West” is a love song to America while the two that follow are straight up love songs. While this is certainly not a misstep, it is a noted departure.

And that can be felt across the album. The band are older while still visiting the old bars. They still enjoy drinking and being in love. Late nights still happen and they’re still celebrating. But… age shows. If nothing, Wild Heart is a reaction to what’s come before it. Post-Nothing plays as two kids looking wide-eyed at the world. Celebration Rock shows those kids immersing themselves in the rock and roll lifestyle. And Wild Heart is what happens when those kids start to grow up. It sucks to call it maturing, but that’s exactly what it is. Japandroids have been around for almost a decade now. Music is a career, even if a great one.

While not all the songs pack the same punch, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life succeeds on its earnestness. “No Known Drink Or Drug” and closer “In A Body Like A Grave” end the album powerfully. Their sound expansion is to both stay relevant and appease themselves. The blown out guitars happily fill speakers and Prowse’s drums are relentless if not slightly more produced. Every song benefits from being played at top volume and the audible joy cannot be manufactured. Japandroids music will always be fun even when slightly less carefree.