Review Summary: These guys are named Black Kids. How edgy.
Usually I’m not very hard on albums by up-and-coming acts, but with Partie Traumatic
, I feel as though Florida blogtastic quintet Black Kids are begging me to hate them. From the album’s opening lyric on “Hit the Heartbreaks,” the grade school zinger ”Knock knock? Who’s There? Call the ghost in your underwear! Call the ghost in your underwear who? Call the ghost in your underwear boo!”
it’s difficult to expect much more than over-the-top, cringe-inducing, swagger-glam pop with absolutely no substance behind it whatsoever. And Black Kids deliver in full. “Hit the Heartbreaks” exemplifies nearly all the problems Partie Traumatic
will deliver in it’s ten song duration: Youngblood’s howl is strained far past the point of emotional weight, the lyrics are absolutely atrocious, the production squeezes away any depth by throwing way too much at a wall, resulting in nothing sticking whatsoever. And the worst part is: it doesn't get better.
One of the great benefactors of internet buzz, Black Kids have been so (un)fortunate as to receive the “next big thing” label from pinnacles of music knowledge like NME and the Associated Press. Maybe this is largely due to the fact American Society can still be shocked by the racial exploitation in naming one’s band Black Kids, something frontman Reggie Youngblood took into account when baptizing the group (curiously, he didn’t take into account that the majority of his band was white.) But as songs like lead single “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” make so painfully clear, Black Kids really have nothing to offer. The music is mediocre, the lyrics are horrendous, and the songs aren’t good, plain and simple. On “I’m Not Gonna…” Youngblood yelps with miserable attempts at irony (or maybe just terrible sincerity) “I’m not gonna teach him how to dance with you. He’s got two left feet and he bites my moves”
as though his audience should take sympathy on his dilemma. Toss behind this cheesy cliché synth lines, counting pre-choruses, and a doo-doo bridge and you get the most generic of indie pop songs this side of The Killers. As the lead single, “I’m Not Gonna…” sets the bar shockingly low for a band with as much critical acclaim as Black Kids have garnered, and Partie Traumatic
Not that it tries to, really. As the album progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that the singles are meant to be the standard for Partie Traumatic
to match. All the songs are similarly dancey, overproduced, and frankly forgettable tracks with few bright spots to speak of. Not for lack of effort, mind you. It’s obvious that Black Kids desperately want to be liked/quirky/fun/etc as evidenced in their sex crazed lyrics, their unrelenting grip on one tempo, and the 80’s post punk vocal style of Reggie Youngblood. So it’s no surprise that Partie Traumatic
feels forced and simply irritating, like a friend trying to push his band with extreme hype and gimmicks. For example, early album track “Listen to Your Body Tonight” features a conversation between a girl and her body, and Black Kids take the opportunity to rhyme “bedroom” with “boom boom.” It’s an annoying concept no doubt, and like their album, Black Kids don’t pick up on how much of a failure it is. Their extreme desire to make a “sexy” record is palpable, resulting in several lyrics and songs that lack any emotional depth, which serves as a key aspect to why Partie Traumatic
is such a mess.
In the end, the effort the band put into trying to make a specific record is what causes Partie Traumatic
to be such a straight up debacle. Black Kids are trying too hard, plain and simple. There are few glimpses on Partie Traumatic
where Black Kids take the music out of fifth gear and relax, and though these moments are the only things worth taking away from the record, their occurences are few, far between, and all too brief.. “Hurricane Jane,” for example, has a legitimate groove to it, and Black Kids never sound more likable than in the chorus of ”You can’t spend the night.”
Of course, the moment’s destroyed before long, as Youngblood destroys it with an earnest cry of ”I took something and it feels like karate; it's kicked me down and left me for dead!”
Pretensions like that are what destroy Partie Traumatic
. Simply put: Black Kids think they’re hot shi
t (“I’ve Underestimated My Charm (Again)” should win a prize for most delusional song title of 2008), and who wants to listen to a bunch of posers with nothing to back up their boasts? It didn’t work with Kevin Federline, and it doesn’t work with Black Kids either.