Noisy but built on articulate songwriting, Near radiates a sincerity often missing from bands this brash. At a time of doubt and fear, it’s screamingly optimistic.
The luminous Near to the Wild Heart of Life arrives as an imperfect, if sorely needed, import from the Great White North. Japandroids return, proud Canadians, to provide the right medicine at a dark time.
Near To The Wild Heart Of Life is proof that, while Japandroids are still capable of the cathartic sermons that can lead to hoarse voices and declarations of love, they can break from the formula and deliver something fresh and exciting.
Now, even in the face of life’s measured expectations, they’re still inspiring. This is the secret of Japandroids charm: they’re able to make your humanity feel herculean.
Some may yearn for more of Celebration Rock’s high voltage, but by changing gears they’ve added more depth and variation to those shout-along choruses we love so much.
Comfortably impressive, it’s difficult to see how Near To The Wild Heart Of Life will leave the turntable once it gets spinning. Despite being less striking than its predecessor, it’s another great Japandroids album.
You already know if you want a Japandroids' album-once again, they've provided a 30-minute blast of hopeful, soaring rock. There are some differences on this album (better lyrics, different instruments, and better mixing), but perhaps the biggest difference is a world in which a blast of hope is more needed than ever.
Near to the Wild Heart of Life isn't the record fans waited five years for. But backed into a corner, Japandroids have penned a truly great record filled with all the guitar hooks, shout-along choruses about nights spent drinking, sweating and longing to be somewhere else that we've come to expect.
The good news is that Japandroids once again have delivered the cathartic goods, even if the similarities to the previous album dull the sense of discovery some.
Don’t get me wrong, this is yet another consummate collection of sing-a-long, shouty anthems but there is restraint here too. Only on current single ‘No Known Drink Or Drug‘ does the hand brake totally come off and the lads propel themselves at breakneck speed as if searching for the God particle itself.
An expansive record which fizzes with a desire to play around with the possibilities of the studio rather than the stage, shifting the parameters of their music beyond the fast and frantic.
Previous records had a lo-fi garage edginess to them – skittish drums, lyrical yelps, cavalcades of crunch – but Near to the Wild Heart of Life, their third album, is so luxuriously gnarled it roars out of the speakers like the Revenant bear.
The past has rather overwhelmed them already, with their blend of anthemic Springsteen drive and Replacements raggedy-ass rock marshalled mostly in the service of simplistic rock’n’roll sentiments.
Near to the Wild Heart of Life is a worthy expansion built upon the formidable bedrock lain in albums past. This is a different Japandroids, a band reborn after spending the last three-ish years in the process of coming to grips with their success and significant life changes.
For the most part, Near to the Wild Heart of Life sticks to the Japandroids M.O., but the end results are less enticing.
Japandroids have finally reached a point in their careers where they’re perfectly content in embracing the average, but there’s still a good amount of reflection found on Near to the Wild Heart... to follow their long journey.
Japandroids aren’t going 100mph anymore but that’s ok, because for the first time, it feels like they know where they want to go.
There’s plenty of Near to the Wild Heart of Life that carries the essential appeal of the band in spades, namely, a dedication to giving it your all until you collapse with euphoria and exhaustion.
It seems Japandroids sought out a new way of writing, and when a band takes risks, they run the chance of losing their heart. At various points throughout, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life seems victim of exactly that.
By removing its circumstantial baggage entirely, The Wild Heart Of Life is satisfying and uplifting, and continuously so. But it feels in every way – sans the band’s personal serenity – a regression after Celebration Rock.
While the stadium-friendly bombast of Near to the Wild Heart of Life might turn off a lot of listeners, off the back of the most wretched year in living memory Japandroids’ anthemic punk optimism is a momentary relief from the terror of now.
Near to the Wild Heart of Life provides ready mantras of exhaustion and energy, and exhausted is probably the simplest way I can describe feeling after listening to this short collection of eight tracks.