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You Say Party! We Say Die!: XXXX, in "Nothing Not New"

Welcome to "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

Artist: You Say Party! We Say Die!
Title: XXXX
Release date: Feburary 9, 2010
Label: Paper Bag

I was wary of You Say Party! We Say Die! They use not one, but two, exclamation points in the band's name -- and that surely can mean no good, right? In the track listing and lyric sheet accompanying the band's new CD, XXXX, that configuration of letters appears anywhere the word "love" should appear. Not looking good. On the back cover of the CD, the band thanks its . . . vocal coach? And they're from Canada? You know how feel about that.

From the first note of lead-off track "There Is Xxxx (Within My Heart)," it's apparent that You Say Party! We Say Die! worships at the altar of the 1980s. As the song progresses, the '80s fetishism (lots of synths, dance beats) becomes abundantly clear. Seems a lot of bands are doing this kind of thing now. And a lot of it sounds really silly. 

Well, I'm not going to say it doesn't sound kind of silly on the new YSP! WSD!, either. But it doesn't half-bad, either. At least these guys and gals are well schooled in Reagan-era pop and New Wave, and their scholarship has paid off. And that whole vocal coach thing? That paid off, too. The two women carrying the load on the mostly doubled-up vocals sound pretty great together. One does the droll, singing-speaking thing and the other has a more conventionally pleasant singing voice. It usually works to great effect.

I admit it. I didn't want to like this, but the faux-spooky, minor-key verses that explode into huge anthemic choruses are pretty irresistible. However, the lyrics are pure Goth nonsense. These guys want to be much "darker" than they really seem to be (example: "I'm all alone / And I've got lots of bitemarks / 'Cause oh / I'm all eaten up / Oh oh / Inside out and outside in / I'm Lonely's Lunch"). This is pseudo-serious dance music for the mall-crawling set. I'm not sure what anything of it adds up to in the end, but it sure sounds like a guilty pleasure to me.

Note: YSP! WSD! is scheduled to appear at the Rhythm Room on March 15.

Best song: "Lonely's Lunch" 
Rotation: Medium
Deja vu: Dead or Alive meets Sahara Hotnights
I'd rather listen to: Missing Persons
Grade: B+

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