Swiftly following up 2006 debut Hit The Floor, Canadian five-piece You Say Party! We Say Die! find themselves at the forefront of what may loosely be described as the indie underground. So if pulsating beats, shouted vocals and retro keyboard that sounds more suited to Phoenix Nights gets you this far, there seems little reason to change.
New release Lose All Time in this sense does not disappoint. Not one track reaches four minutes in length, showing a keen focus on the furious and frantic song-writing that has given the band its status. Opening track Five Year Plan is a clear example, with vocalist Becky Ninkovic screaming this is a test! over the gothic punk exuberance that erupts behind her. The melodies that Ninkovic then attempts, however, fail somewhat to take hold, which prevents this from becoming the show-stopping into that one may have expected.
Thankfully, things quickly take an up-turn with Downtown Mayors. The simple, melodic keyboard work of Krista Loewen, as ever, provides the essential backing to the track which allows guitarist Derek Adam to indulge in the staccato licks that he so adores. Add in the catchy refrain “stars burn so bright, much better than neon light,” and you have yourselves an album highlight.
A great bouncing bassline from Stephen O’Shea keeps the furious dance feel up in Opportunity, and also provides the other band members to express themselves fully. Having reached these highs, we then encounter the forgettable Teenage Hit Wonder, which begins with uninspiring, sighing vocal, and quickly loses momentum. Following on is debut single Monster, which seems to follow a more conventional (radio-friendly?) form. Whilst the vocal harmonies are engaging, the track lacks the bite of previous releases such as The Gap, and it seems impossible to escape the sense that when Ninkovic is not yapping, she isn’t that interesting.
As if the singer suddenly realises this, the next three tracks revert back to the band’s more recognisable form. Like I Give A Care stands out in particular, with the opening call Shut out the world, shut it out, shut it out setting a blinding tempo. In this realm, Ninkovic’s melodies make much more sense, and the chorus here of they only know where they are going because they have been there so many times before is a real pleasure.
Things then begin to slow down with the hugely tuneful Giant Hands, followed by the gloomy piano-fuelled You’re Almost There. Ninkovic’s moans of “It’s my mother” are all very well here, but overall this feels like a soaring ballad that was missed. The energy of the album now lost, subsequent track Dance Floor Destroyer proves repetitive, and even a key change in Midnight Snake cannot quite restore intensity levels.
Faced with this prospect, the band try something different, and come up with one of the best moments of the record. Quiet World’s keyboard and vocal intro is darkly engaging, and the rest of the instruments gradually build up around this, showing perhaps a level of musical maturity that may not have been expected. As quickly as this track builds up, however, it dies away into silence, followed by four minutes of silence, and then 15 minutes of swirling keyboard effects. Don’t expect anything to happen, just stop the CD.
Overall, it is just as well that YSP!WSD! keep track lengths to a minimum, because in the main these are the types of song that sound superb live, but on record get very old, very quickly. Occasionally, this furious dance sound hides a lack of real musical talent, and those hoping for a showcase of instrumental diversity will be left wanting. A sure hit for the band‚s already vast following, but if you do not fall squarely into this category then there is little here to change your mind.