There is a large black sticker covering one panel of the CD digipak that reads, “Compiles the first two self-released Japandroids EP’s. This is NOT their sophomore album.” It’s fairly apparent, from the placement of the sticker, this is not meant for paying customers. By the time the customer gets the CD home, it’s too late. (For customers, there is the small note on the back cover, “This is a compilation. This is Japandroids 2006-2008.) No, this is meant for those critics who have probably already been reporting about Japandroids’ second full-length. The mistake is easy enough to make. On the surface, it looks as if the Vancouver duo has ten new songs. In actuality, No Singles is a compilation of the band’s first two, limited release EPs.
The mistake is even easier to understand when one realizes that they only made 500 of each of those EPs, which was a shame. But that’s being rectified by having those songs available now in one package. It might seem odd (it did to me) to package this CD like a retrospective. Maybe this is part of the joke. The artwork, liner notes and packaging all seem to point to a cheeky ‘look back’ at 2006-2008. It made me chuckle a bit. But, considering the raw potency of the songs here, from 2007’s All Lies and 2008’s Lullaby Death Jams, perhaps they deserve it.
How only two people can unleash such melodic rock fury is beyond me, but that’s exactly what Brian King and David Prowse do. Opener “Darkness on the Edge of Gastown” and “Lovers / Strangers” are perfect examples of the walls of guitar noise, maniacal drums and the force made by the two combined. Similarly, yet contrarily, songs such as “Lucifer’s Symphony” can combine that same wall of guitar noise to make a steady, shoegazey vibe a la My Bloody Valentine. The near 7-minute track, which picks up an amazing amount of speed halfway through, is a true gem, possibly worth the price of the comp all by itself.
The EPs first came to my attention last year, upon hearing that the band had recorded a cover of one of my favorite McLusky songs, “To Hell With Good Intentions.” But this was one of those situations in which I came for the pie and stayed for the food. The cover is blazing, a worthy version of a recent classic, with Japandroids’ liner notes saying, “We covered it to ensure our first EP had at least one good song on it. The lyrics are far too witty to be reprinted here.” Self-deprecating to be sure, but slightly off the mark as the songs on both EPs are all noise rock beauties. Granted, McLusky is near legendary in my mind, but give Japandroids time. This cover might have led to their recent 7-inch single project, which will include new A-sides and cover B-sides including the first two of songs by Big Black and X.
I’m not sure if Brian and David were trying to be ironic about the title of this compilation. No, none of these were singles, but each one, in my opinion, had the distinct possibility of becoming one. When you look at the photos on the cover of the album, and throughout the liner notes, you see two smiling young men, obviously either simply enjoying themselves, or in on the joke. That joy comes out in their music, heavy and distorted, but exhilarating at the same time.
My Bloody Valentine – Glider
No Ag e- Weirdo Rippers
Superchunk – Superchunk