Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Anyone who was at Grappa’s Cellar to witness Japandroids’ first (and so far only) Hong Kong show, in 2013, can attest to the blue-collar rock spirit of the hard-hitting Canadian duo. If you were in the first rows of the near capacity crowd, you may have tried sheltering from the spittle of impassioned guitarist/vocalist Brian King. The band’s commitment to performing is beyond question, but it’s been five years since their successful breakthrough album, Celebration Rock. King and tub-thumping pal David Prowse return from hiatus with another eight tracks (as was the case with their previous albums) – because, after all, “eight songs is the standard template for a great rock ’n’ roll album”. Prowse drives each track with his frantic pounding as King riffs catchy melodies and spits out cheesy lyrics, but this time without the wry humour. NTTWHOL is another “as you were” helping of classic rock chords delivered with raw punk energy. Their intensity is wilting and Japandroids appear to be further from the wild heart of life than ever.