As if we needed more evidence, New York’s post-punk revival is further proof every “no” is eventually a “yes.”(Amazon’s mail-bot recently tried to sell me a local comp: “As someone who has purchased albums by Le Tigre, you may be interested in Yes New York, which features Le Tigre.”) For now, Minneapolis’s Party of One are rock’s reigning negative dialecticians, as dialectical as they are negative. In “Baghdad Boogie,” an incongruously bouncy campfire singalong, Party chief Eric Fifteen reveals two essential truths: “we got rage and we got a lot” and “we got a sense of humor, bet you thought not.”
Like their forebears who posted the punk, history weighs on Party of One. Titles like “Belgrade Sends Its Regards” notwithstanding, Fifteen’s songs aren’t literally topical—they’re more like prehensile sketches of universal dread. The gloomy bassline of “Six Million Anonymous Deceased” propels Fifteen into a morass of state terror and private desire, dogged by memories of a girl wearing a yellow star (“She was a Zionist, baby, and she broke my heart!”), while the song’s hummable chorus—nothing more than the title—humanizes the nightmare.
Negation-cottage-industry chronicler Greil Marcus once wrote in these pages that the idea behind Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces is that fascism survived the war by going underground and into our daily lives. Party of One follow it to the basement, the symbolic if not actual arena where Caught the Blast was recorded on an eight-track. The fuzzy blast running through it is the sound of a band’s subterranean practice space as heard from the sidewalk above. In this season of geopolitical truth-twisting and Matrix metaphors, that basement sounds like Zion. Making no-fi sound like a moral imperative, Party of One sing a song for everyone: “The future looks good, but I ain’t gonna let it.”