Album Review: You Say Party! We Say Die! — XXXX

by Joel Edelman on February 24, 2010

I’ve never understood why “garden variety” is viewed by many as a pejorative. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate broccoli. Just ask Steve Masters.

You Say Party! We Say Die! doesn’t offer much in the originality department outside of the double factorial, but that’s fine. We need more bands like this. Let’s start at the end with “Heart of Gold.” It does belong at the end, because it has a “Road Movie to Berlin” feel to it, but musically it reminds me of The Cure’s “Untitled,” and the singing is straight out of a Marine Research-style track. The rest of the album copies other styles, but no other band manages to homogenize this many sounds together.

“There Is XXXX (Within My Heart)” has some of that great mid-’90s diva keyboard in the background that makes me want to take Dakin out to a party in the Presidio to get drugs. Or maybe it was the outer Richmond. And maybe it was just a burrito. But burritos are like a hug you can eat, and hugs are drugs!

“Glory” reminds me of another factorial-laden act, Gravy Train!!!!. “Make XXXX” has a Pretty Girls Make Graves feel to it. These guys would make an awesome cover band if they weren’t so busy creating their own good music. The organ definitely perks up many of the tracks on this record.

“Laura Palmer’s Prom” is far and away the best song on the album, I don’t care how much it is pandering to my needs. It’s very obvious with that title that they are going after my demographic. I don’t care. The song is so good that I will not be offended by their attempts to placate me. The song tells a story. And it has 1980s synths. It makes me want to read her diary again. (You really should if you haven’t. It even has pages “ripped out” that you don’t get to read. When I first saw a “Have you seen BOB” sign at a grocery store in college I about came apart.) At any rate, this song is what keeps the record from, in a worst-case scenario, humdrum. But this rescues the record into a top 25 album of the year candidate and makes me want to see them live, just to hear this one song. It’s got to be great. I refuse to believe otherwise.

If you’re into the modern Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound, this record is worth a listen. I don’t see it as introducing new fans to the genre, though, unless you’re dating one of the band members.

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XXXX was released in the U.S. on February 9th, and is available from Paper Bag Records. In addition, YSP! WSD! will be appearing at Bottom of the Hill on March 12th.

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