This album admittedly doesn’t throw it back very far (only to last year), but on a balmy and humid night such as this, it absolutely fits. Last June I had the privilege of seeing Party or Die! perform in Nashville. A friend of mine plays guitar for the band, but that truly has no bearing on how much I enjoy their music. It is solid indie rock through and through.
With a name like Party or Die! one may expect dubstep or any of a number of dance-able styles. If that’s what you want, you may be disappointed. While the gentlemen in the group are super fun to be around, the content of this EP is quite serious at times. It describes a series of losses and tragedies, the protagonist often questioning and reflecting. “I thought I would find / Some peace of mind / That was a lie.” All throughout, the honest voice of singer Patrick leads the way over well-executed clean and crunchy, over-driven guitar riffs. Tight drums and solid bass fill out the sound while every so often taking the spotlight. The album has a great range of dynamics for a seven-track offering, ranging from upbeat rock passages to lonely guitar and vocal sections, sometimes within the same song. Spacey picking and group vocals make a few appearances, while a classic Telecaster sound is featured throughout. The production isn’t perfect, but still quite good; it lends a wonderful indie charm to the album as it explores seemingly hopeless situations.
I definitely came across the music at a seemingly hopeless time in my own life, and because of this, the trajectory connected with me. I was feeling somewhat directionless at the end of a two-year relationship. What could possibly come next? How would I move forward from such a crash? I was re-evaluating so many things in my life when I first heard these songs on an early summer night in a bar in downtown Nashville. They sank in even more on the drive home with the sunroof open. The lyrics spoke of broken relationships, shattered dreams, and confusion. Yet as the album progressed, there was a slow arc toward the hopeful.
The guys don’t leave us hanging. The final track echoes with hope eternal, the catchy refrain repeating:
You took everything
And you turned it on its head
You took all our suffering
And you gave us joy instead
A solid reminder of the ultimate victory in the Gospel is exactly the place to end up after a loss and setback. There truly is reason to hope, no matter what adversity may come our way in this life.
I was lucky enough to snag a limited, hand-stamped CD while the band was in town, and I still enjoy giving it a spin when I feel like a journey from suffering to redemption. You can find the wonderfully-indie sounds of the Holiday at Sea EP on Bandcamp.