Even when they were screaming Vancouver scrappers recording songs like “Darkness at the Edge of Gastown,” you knew there was a classic rock act at the punk heart of Japandroids. On their third LP, that band is out of the closet. “It got me all fired up, to go far away/And make some ears ring from the sound of my singing, baby!” hollers Brian King on the title track. The song’s about a kid leaving behind his small-ass town for big-ass dreams, and when the voices harmonize on the “whoa-oh!”s, thick with top-shelf reverb, you hear every cheeseball Eighties pop-metal chorus chant in history distilled and vindicated. It’s awesome.
Drummer David Prowse still plays like Keith Moon weaned on the Ramones, with stoic muscle-beats full of sprints and lunges. Part of the thrill here is how King’s constructs teeter at cliché’s brink; see “North East South West,’ with its cheer-trolling regional shout-outs, or “Midnight to Morning,” with its shopworn road-hog catalog: the bottle, the devil, the highway lines, the way home. Yet, with guitars soaring and grooves accelerating, the words feel undeniable, and you know that when you hear ’em in a club – or theater, or arena – you’ll be bouncing off the walls, shouting every word.