Post-Nothing is Canadian duo Japandroids’ first long player after releasing two EPs since forming in 2006. Brian King fronts on guitar and vocals while drumming is handled by a chap called David Prowse. He is probably not the same David Prowse who became famonymous for being Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
As a guitar/drums duo Japandroids escape the trap of sounding like The White Stripes or The Black Keys by utilising over-dubs and multi-track recording to end up sounding more like The Pixies or Ash. Post-Nothing is very much post-grunge, with the energetic punk drumming mixing well with distorted high end guitar and lyrical hooks. Japandroids’ musical style is displayed confidently on the opener The Boys Are Leaving Town and mostly holds steady for the remaining seven tracks.
Young Hearts Spark Fire simultaneously suggests a coming of age or looming mortality as well as a sense of nostalgia with “I don’t want to worry about dyin’ / I just want to worry about those sunshine girls.” There’s not a lot else to the song so building layers of emotion and meaning within something so sparse that can be appreciated by angsty teenagers or reflective thirty somethings alike is a neat trick.
The following track, Wet Hair, contains only nine lines. Each of the three haiku-like stanzas is repeated just enough to get stuck in your head without overstaying its welcome. “We run the gauntlet / Let’s get to France / So we can French kiss some French girls.” The songs are filled with this sort of punchy mini-verse and a trend, worrying close to a formula, becomes apparent.
By the time the fifth track Heart Sweats is over it’s clear that Japandroids’ specialty is in creating half-songs. Crazy/Forever, the weakest track on the album, comes at the wrong time and emphasises the weaknesses of the songwriting. It’s the least interesting song as far as lyrical or melodic hooks go. The first two minutes of the six minute epic are instrumental, King eventually breaking his silence with the uninspiring lyrics “We’ll stick together forever / stay sick together / be queasy forever” and doing not much more than repeating these lines ad nauseam in between lengthy breaks where the rather dull chords are all that’s left to listen to. It goes on far too long and contains far too little to hold much interest for the listener.
The penultimate track Sovereignty returns to the band’s home city of Vancouver (“It’s raining in Vancouver / But I don’t give a fuck / I’m in love with you tonight.”) as it heads to a more enjoyable and balanced standard. Closing out the disc is I Quit Girls, the sparsest of all the songs, coming in at just a few lines. “She wears white / six days a week / She was just / one of those girls / And if you’re lucky / on the seventh day / she’ll wear nothing / After her / I quit girls.” There is no grand finale or climax to be found here, like each song before it, and the album in general.
Post-Nothing is not overly produced, but to call it lo-fi would be to discount the obvious technical skill behind the production. There are lo-fi sensibilities at work in the creation of this sound, but perhaps it could be more accurately called “faux lo-fi”. Lyrically and thematically minimalist, the album is a collection of (mostly) tight, garage-pop songs heavy on distorted, effects laden guitar and tightly poetic lyrics. The songs play more like truncated versions of heavily produced dance songs from Moby or Fatboy Slim with well crafted lyrical hooks repeated often enough to appear like digital samples rather than sung verses. They are all solid garage pop tunes, but ultimately the lyrics and the composition are lacking in substance and theme.