Japandroids’ music feels like the embodient of velocity. Each song has a forward momentum, the feeling of the wind rushing by (it’s dangerous driving music). Their songs are about having fun, the possibilities of youth, but there’s also a distinct pang of regret beneath the dynamic façade. The Japandroids aren’t racing to anything; they’re racing away from responsibility, from the shackles of aging. That pang is the glance in the rearview mirror.
“The House That Heaven Built” captures the essence of their music in searing, vibrant guitars and drums, and while the lyrics are intended to focus on a house, a static entity, the exhilarant chorus exemplifies the song’s escapist resonance:
“When they love you, and they will
Tell ‘em all they’ll love in my shadow
And if they try to slow you down
Tell ‘em all to go to hell”
It’s defiant, powerful and demands to be sung along to. The verses are more complex – that pang is there. It’s possibly about death (“A house/Built of living light/Where everything evil/Disappears and dies”) or about settling down: the chorus can be read as advice to a child. But it elides analysis – there’s no point dwelling on the rearview mirror.