Japandroids, a Canadian duo famous for the stadium rock of their first two records, is so close to capturing the Weezer Effect that it’s scary.
The Weezer Effect is a term I use to describe when something is so corny that it becomes good. It’s something Weezer is able to accomplish by writing songs about their adolescence in their forties and still be relatable ten albums down the line. It’s why Weezer was able to release Weezer (The White Album) last year to critical acclaim. It’s why they can name their album “The White Album” and get away with it. It’s a kind of serious gimmick that only comes from a band that has never grown up but has still matured, like the opposite of Adam Sandler.
Brian King and David Prowse are close to reaching the Weezer Effect, but their commercial aims seem to detract from their likability. People are use to cheese with Weezer, they named one of their records Hurley featuring the character from Lost prominently displayed on the cover. People aren’t used to cheese with Japandroids however, and the “I used to be good but now I’m BAD” chorus of the title-track hits like two forks scraping together.
Sure, Near to the Wildheart of Life sounds exactly like you think it would: like waving a flag, winning a bar fight, or the “Kids in America” Len cover, but what is doesn’t sound like is fun—genuine fun. Japandroids sounds forced, right from the very beginning of Brian King proclaiming that “the future’s under fire.” Japandroids sound like the soundtrack to the Little League World Series, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not the “cool” that the band needs to accomplish. And that’s fine, commercial-cool sells, and commercial-cool even gets a few Shazam’s from Wendy’s ads, but commercial-cool is the kind of thing that holds bands like 21 Pilots together. Commercial-cool doesn’t feel real.