A quick glance at the cover art of Post-Nothing, the first LP proper from Vancouver duo Japandroids (JPNDRDS), alone provides a perfect snap-shot of the chronically adolescent, but no less genuine world of would-be fantasy that is about to be entered. In the image on the cover, guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse gently cradle each other with all of the hipster detachment that would be expected but none of the irony. It’s like a bromance in LP form.
The album is innitially somewhat difficult to dissect. With the introductory mission statement “The Boys Are Leaving Town” and the curious coda “I Quit Girls,” one might question just how cheeky our heroes are really willing to seem. Aspirations to “French kiss some French girls” or being “too drunk to feel it” further add to the hi-five culture cruising, but start to lose some of their caricature when it’s gently revealed that there’s really no joke here. Post-Nothing is one big man-child of an album that really never wants to grow up. There is something tragically brilliant in just how pathetic that should seem, and just how rallying a cause King and Prowse are able to make it.
Employing a downright vicious mixture of post-punk noise and garage-rock methods, Post-Nothing is a sonic love letter to the maximum power of minimal tact. The swirling cyclone of percussion never seems to dissipate long enough for the more formless guitar fuzz to make its own statement; but then again, this is probably one of the loudest guitar albums of the year. There is nothing sleek or polished about it, and, of course, that is the point. Both King and Prowse trade off shouting vocals at random intervals, and the production seems to purposely mix the sonic qualities back-asswards. But, more than that, Post-Nothing looks to pummel even the most expected of expectations.
Japandroids are hardly an L.A. punk band looking to play the Smell with No Age. They distance themselves from those groups and their ilk in just how non-ironical their desires of the flesh and superficial mentalities are able to be communicated. It doesn’t make them better than those acts, but it does allow Japandroids to be examined in a wholly genuine way. It’s as if their cocksure douche-baggery can be paralleled with their more vulnerable moments of poetic pause and stilted emotion, making them look at least twice as good in the process. It’s a genius method, really. And it works quite well, even if you know you’re not actually being tricked.
What this all really does, though, is highlight Post-Nothing’s two basic speeds: thrashing pop and reflective noise. That’s what it breaks down to. Fortunately, the two sides come together in a far less predictable way than would be usually expected, making large portions of the LP thoroughly compelling, if not truly authentic. Filled with bounce, bite and surprising cohesion, Post-Nothing is a deceptive little piece that is as much fun as it is subversive. The stepson of a real punk album, it is content to find its moments of solidarity and unity on the clever smirks of the protagonists on its very cover.