Near to the Wild Heart of Life by Japandroids starts with a crescendo, building energy to a drop. The initial impression is very upbeat, with earnestly sung lyrics and bright, clear rock riffs. It is the eponymous track on a new album released on Jan. 27, 2017. This is the third album by Vancouver/Toronto band Japandroids, and members Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums, vocals) have produced a consistent sound.
With a style similar to Male Bonding, LVL UP and The Thermals, Japandroids place themselves firmly in the alternative/garage/indie genre. They cite classic influences such as The Stooges, The Rolling Stones and The Gun Club. King and Prowse successfully match the energy of their influences, but there is a certain twinge of nostalgia/melancholy in the sound of today's music, Japandroids included, that separates it from the music of previous decades.
This song starts with a clear narrative, in which the singer is conflicted about leaving home. The singer's best friend encourages him to leave to pursue his dreams. Verses explore ideas around leaving, the desire to do your hometown proud, and the struggle of wanting to try something without knowing if it will have a positive result.
One mystery in the lyrics is the last line of the chorus: "I used to be good but now I'm bad." This line doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the chorus, which is about being "all fired up." This confusing line in the chorus may be tied to the last verse, which deals with the negative effects of making a big life decision, and perhaps even after leaving and achieving success, there can still be lingering doubts.
Overall, this song is worth a listen. If you enjoyed previous releases by Japandroids, you will not be disappointed. Although they do subtly use the infamous "millennial whoop" in their chorus, the encouragement of the lyrical content, the energetic delivery and the cohesive sound are all indicators of why Japandroids fans are willing to wait a little longer than usual for a new release.