They do things differently out West, and not just in the U. S. of A. Abbotsford, British Columbia is about as far as you can get in Canada from the Toronto and Montreal music scenes (without crossing the Arctic Circle), and the dance-punk of You Say Party! We Say Die! on their 2005 debut LP, Hit the Floor!, owed little to the indie rock ‘Canadian Invasion’ that was coming in at the same time from Ontario & Quebec. And in their follow-up release, Lose All Time, they keep going their own way.
Now, You Say Party! hasn’t forgotten their dancing shoes, a fact made pretty damn clear with Lose All Time’s opener. “Five Year Plan” is both upbeat and up-tempo, with a pushing, driving rhythm, and is a great way to start an album. It’s also probably the best purely ‘dance-punk’ track on the record, over the similar “Downtown Mayors Goodnight, Alley Kids Rule!” (You Say Party! hasn’t forgotten their exclamation points, either), the shout-anthem “Like I Give a Care”, and the speeding-but-screechy “Moon”.
But Lose All Time is mainly about stretching the indie-dance sound in some new directions. The biggest thing You Say Party! adds is melody, from singer Becky Ninkovic making her voice flowing, to keyboardist Krista Loewen delivering smoother notes. The mix between shout and melody doesn’t really come together on “Poison”, but the shift to the even more melodic produces the good-but-not-great “Opportunity” and “You’re Almost There”, and more importantly the great-but-nothing “Monster” and “Quiet World”, whose intimacy and beauty prove truly moving. You Say Party! also slows it up on some pieces, such as the ‘I just wanna be friends’ number, “Teenage Hit Wonder”, or the Björk-like vocals-and-lone-piano, “Dancefloor Destroyer”.
There is one very sour note on Lose All Time. Final track “Quiet World” is just under twenty-three minutes long: three minutes of the enchanting “Quiet World”, four minutes of silence, and then almost nine minutes of synthesizer ramble. Indulgent in the worst sense of the word, and incredibly tiresome, the hidden piece shows little in the way of experimentation, just endlessness; sort of the electronica version of a bad jam band jam session. When “Quiet World” goes quiet three minutes in, immediately skip to the end of the track and the record (or better yet, set 3:00 as the song’s stop time in iTunes, and never worry about it again).
You Say Party! We Say Die! will never be considered ‘one of those Canadian bands’. But it’s hardly the first dance-punk outfit to use a healthy supply of exclamation points (following the road set by modern dance-punk founders !!!). With Lose All Time, You Say Party! proves it’s more than ‘one of those dance-punk bands’, with a hot beef injection of melody and emotion. The experimentation doesn’t always work, but when it does, it most certainly does.