To look at them, you wouldn’t think Black Kids had it in them to make a record like ‘Partie Traumatic’. The Floridian five-piece certainly don’t appear to be copulation-crazed masters of rolled-up jacket-sleeve pop. Plus, they look like the last people on Earth who’d want to get within gagging distance of Robert Smith’s hairspray fumes, what with their geeky indie kid smiles and colourful garms. Yet, if they’re to overcome the maelstrom of hype they’ve generated from the word go, they’re going to have to subvert a few preconceptions. ‘Partie Traumatic’ (released, not by one of the numerous major labels that rucked for their signatures, but by the band themselves) certainly does that, and here’s another one: if you thought this debut, like so many that have set the blogosphere abuzz in recent years, was doomed to disappoint, well, think again.
Formed in Jacksonville in 2006, their debut EP ‘Wizard Of Ahhhs’ was released last August to much fanfare and excitable column inches. Like all too many Next Big Things before them it was brilliant, but there were lingering doubts that anything that followed could live up to all the talk, that they’d be able to keep up the breakneck pace…
Well, breathe easy. ‘Partie Traumatic’ may not be for everyone but it’s as bold, brilliant and bonkers a pop debut as you’re likely to hear. It opens, bafflingly, with a terrible knock-knock joke sung in call-and-response, but from these odd beginnings ‘Hit The Heartbrakes’ flourishes into an unstoppable, unforgettable synth-pop juggernaut of gurgling turbo-fun.
Black Kids sound like The Go! Team fronted by Reggie’s hero Robert Smith. And they’re obsessed with sex. On ‘Listen To Your Body Tonight’
co-vocalist Dawn Watley has an actual mid-song conversation with her body (‘played’ by frontman Reggie Youngblood), who informs her that
“I wanna feel somebody on you”, while the protagonist of ‘Love Me Already’ jealously wonders “What she’s doing in his apartment at midnight?/I didn’t get an invite”. Every song seems to be about desire, usually – and brilliantly, in the case of ‘I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’ – of the unreciprocated variety, although it glistens with such a buoyant sheen (kudos to producer Bernard Butler on that one) you barely notice the darkness bubbling underneath.
So what if the presence of a mere six new songs suggests Black Kids aren’t exactly prolific? And who cares if things run out of steam by the time ‘Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)’ brings things to a close? ‘Partie Traumatic’ is the sexiest, most outrageous outright pop album of ’08
so far, hard not to love and (seemingly) even easier to lay.