It only takes around fifteen seconds to identify and digest the new Japandroids release, Post-Nothing, and I’m a little bit ashamed we didn’t review this thing more properly when it first surfaced awhile ago. To connect to a more personal realm, Bon Iver is set to release his side project, Volcano Choir, and I already know I won’t buy it. I’ll leave it to James or Brian to review that record because I already know what it involves. In 2009, the indie music world has toed the line nicely between oddball experimentation and honest-to-goodness neo folk sentimentality. This excludes the dance and electronica stuff, but it only takes one walk through our 2009 reviews to get a pretty stratified snapshot of our likes and dislikes. For me, I can get behind albums like Post-Nothing mainly because they jar something loose sonically. It’s a percussion heavy wall of sound, intricately tuneful and noisy in the smartest way. It’s been digitally released since April from their former label, Unfamiliar Records, and the physical re-release of sorts, through Polyvinyl, is set and ready to pop July 24th. This album is already on many “best-of” lists for 2009, and there is some merit to that. Leaning heavily in already well-established oeuvres, the noisy duo of Brian King and David Prowse have one hell of a debut effort. Kicks and bruises to my backside for not spinning this sooner.
Brian commented in a previous review about the nature of music. Silence is equally important in arrangement as sound. Without silence, in other words, there is no rhythm and, essentially, no song. Post-Nothing nearly achieves the lofty goal of defying this principal, boasting very little silence and a whole wrecking ball of sound for only two people manning the crane. We were huge fans of Crystal Antlers’ Tentacles earlier this year, chiefly because of the sonic bruising it creates. What’s important is that CA has a whole lot of people involved. Japandroids is Prowse and King. That’s it. Prowse spanks on the snare drum and rides enormous cymbal crashes from the opening track to the last, and King’s guitar delivery deserves the paradoxical “maniacally balanced” description. Drum cadences move from violent to gallopy and from structured to chaotic in a blink, and despite the mature arrangements, it’s a breeze to shake your ass and break some shit to this record.
The high-octane energy doesn’t take away from pop modalities, however, and at its root, Post-Nothing is insanely tuneful and catchy. Japandroids do an interesting job of fusing punk, pop, beach, low-fi, and industrial noise all together into a palatable package. “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is a pop song at heart, nestled underneath a major layer of fuzz and violently shouted tandem vocals from Prowse and King. It’s an off-kilter and melodic timebomb where tension and release are pleasantly delivered. Most of the 8 tracks move in similar modes. Beach inspired tracks like “Rockers East Vancouver” put all the instruments in jumpy unison, bridging the low-fi and hi-fi modalities well. Muffled vocals juxtapose groovy riffs and pop hooks.
There’s certainly a bell curve to the album when listened in its entirety. The raucous vibe of the first few tracks hit a peak with “Heart Sweats” and “Crazy/Forever” at the record’s core. The former begins with a gallopy drum cadence and a brooding vibe unfolds. It’s reminiscent of early NIN work with fuzzy industrial distortion driving it. Bluesy oooohs lift it slightly out of the darker modes, but the viscious rhythm pummels the listener like a punching bag and the crashing cymbals are violent enough to hurt the ears in a good way. Once again, the album is rooted in loudness, and “Heart Sweats” growls at you from beginning to end. The latter, “Crazy/Forever” is a rock song. It mixes a blues riff that’s glittery enough for the pretty boys and gritty enough for throwback swamp rock fans. It rolls through with a sneer. Both of these songs have been on endless rotation here at CD headquarters for a few months. The blackened underbelly of the record, these two jump out immediately.
Ultimately, David Prowse and Brian King have submitted a record that’s not rookie material. They fuse together a lot of what’s been popular in indie rock for the last few years but do it uniquely with a hell of a lot of hooks. The low-fi fuzz is here, and so is the angry punk-inspired vocal delivery. What separates this, endearingly, is the repeated playback value here. Post-Nothing is an ass-shaker that is easily enjoyed. King and Prowse have a lot of brass and confidence and aren’t afraid to throwback to sounds we remember and ball them into something new. If you’ve not spun the album yet or caught the buzz, we’re glad to present this one to you. If you’re an “old hat” with Japandroids, we’d be curious to hear what your take on the record is. Is it worthy of the hype and “album of the year” bids it’s so quickly receiving? Enjoy the download of “Young Hearts Spark Fire” and pre-order the physical release. As the Summer months flow by it’ll be the jolt you need to keep the spirits high.