Before the band dropped half of its name, You Say Party (Formerly You Say Party, We Say Die) lived somewhere between punk with an electronic flair and straight-up new wave dance music. Its first three albums certainly had shades of darkness and the suggestions of haze, but they remained largely sunny, celebratory affairs.

Since those albums, the following things happened: the band’s drummer, Devon Clifford, collapsed in the middle of a show, dying a few days later from a brain hemorrhage. Keyboard player Krista Loewen left the band shortly after, and You Say Party went on what seemed to be a permanent hiatus in 2011. After reforming to play the 10th anniversary of Paper Bag Records in 2012, the band waited until now to release its new, self-titled record. You Say Party paints the picture of a band that is both consumed by death and inspired by it to move in a new direction.

To describe You Say Party as moody would suggest that it has more than one mood. This is a brooding, sad record, one that carries the weight of death both in what’s presented and what’s missing. In honor of Clifford’s death, the band has stricken live drums from the album, leaving only programmed percussion. One of the album’s highlights, “Friend,” is directly about Clifford. Even beyond those specifics, the album uses its electronic elements and subdued vocals to create a sonic landscape that is less “dream” pop than it is “sleeping on NyQuil because you’re too depressed to fall asleep” pop. Plenty of bands have taken a swing at this kind of music, but You Say Party’s tribulations imbue the record with an extra edge that makes it work.

There is a tendency on atmospheric records like this one to make all the song’s elements sound like one solid wall, to make it difficult to pull individual parts out from the miasma. You Say Party certainly has that soupy quality, especially on the album-closing “Heading in the Direction of the Rising Sun” and slowly-cresting “Sleepyhead,” but the album also does some interesting things with bass guitar in the context of the dream-pop milieu. On past records, the bass served as a grounding agent in the pursuit of establishing a groove; this time out, it’s less melodic and more tense. On “112,” it forms the song’s rocky foundation, bobbing through minor chords, sounding like it was lifted from a 90s college dark-rock band. In the band’s new direction, the bass remains the one suggestion that what used to be here was a rock band.

The album rarely attempts to rise above its own (well-justified) depression, and those attempts are stark and necessary lifts in what can be something of an oppressive listen. “Ignorance” is a rock-solid tribute to the melancholy new wave hits of the 80s, and “Underside” gallops like a late 2000s chill-wave precursor. Outside of these departures, the remainder of You Say Party is singularly focused on exploring the depths of moving on. Honestly, it’s hard to believe You Say Party was ever anything more than what they are here – a group of texture artists. You’d never know they used to make people dance.

The dour cloud that is You Say Party is a through exploration of both a new direction for the band and how sorrow can consume. You Say Party has come back from the dead, but they brought the dead with them.

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