Album review: Japandroids | Near to the wild heart of life

Imagine yourself driving down the highway, leather jacket on, headlights blaring to push away the 11.00pm darkness and with a heavy mind. If this new Japandroids album, Near to the Wild Heart of Life, isn’t pulsing through the speakers, then you’re not listening to this record correctly.

It’s an album, the Canadian duo’s third, that seemingly never should have come to fruition due to the overbearing global touring commitments on the back of Celebration Rock. Exhausted recounting the same songs every night in sweaty clubs, with Near to the Wild Heart of Life, Japandroids now recreate their present lives into forceful rock ballads.

Japandroids’ definition of intensity takes a new meaning for their third studio effort. The group take a more calculated and driving vigour to their power, giving them the ability to experiment and evolve. Acoustic guitars, synths and near naturalistic shoegaze elements, this is Japandroids 2.0.

True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will sees the band stepping away from their lamentation of past records and, instead, embracing the comfort of the present. No Known Drink Or Drug peels back the ethics of how to write a Springsteen-esque rock ballad in a beautiful, anthemic fashion. The centrpiece of the record comes from Arc of Bar – think Post Nothing’s fuzzy verse building of I Quit Girls mixed with DZ Deathrays’ Blood on My Leather’s raucous give-and-take vocal feedback with added synths. It’s psych-disco-power-rock that demands your attention.

An intelligent and thoughtful progression is present on Near to the Wild Heart of Life, which probably wasn’t needed thanks to their impeccable track record. Even with the added instruments and density to the music, still don’t expect Japandroids to be buying waters instead of beers at the bar.

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