Album Review: Black Kids – Partie Traumatic

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Months ago, Black Kids seemed to be the next big thing. Rolling Stone said so, the BBC put them on their top 10 sounds of 2008, and Universal grabbed them to support Kate Nash on a non-stop tour last spring-apparently, they’re still on the road. To make it brief, anticipation and expectations were high for the debut album from these Jacksonville, FL natives. But, it’s still about the music we’re talking about, isn’t it?

See, that’s something to take into account. The fact is, much like the latest Coldplay work, you might have heard about it more than you have actually listened to it. Odds are that it might just sound like much ado about nothing. And such an effect, even if it proves to be just a large scale promotion plan, might sometimes wear out the thing too easily, or too quickly.

But, aware of this, I made the effort to strip out all prejudices and just really listen. And at the third or fourth listening session of Partie Traumatic, it hit me: Black Kids are to music what the Ray-Ban Wayfarers were to fashion. Just as trends go in circles, so do the sounds gathered in Partie Traumatic, which has very precise links to styles and eras. If broken down down into a pie chart, the album might look like 3/4 of the ’80s and 1/4 of the ’60s, which explains the electronic sounds, the backing vocals, and the “woo-woos”.

For those that liken to the 60’s melodic stuff, the main highlight for this album is definitely the wisely chosen, first single, “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You”, which in unsuspecting times has already been covered, even by the likes of Kate Nash. Following the band’s nostalgic trends, it also makes sense why the second single, “Hurricane Jane”, was a sample of the more 80’s side of the group’s style. So much so, in fact, that the song could easily fit the atmosphere of any 1980’s soundtrack.

Though, even if a song like “I’ve Underestimated My Charm (Again)” is a perverse guilty pleasure, the repetitive sound patterns and the very self confident yet quasi-stubborn lyrics that flood the remainder of the album do not justify all the previous fuss. Overall, while Partie Traumatic is a very sharp and enjoyable album, with good beats to dance to, it definitely does not set a year zero in music at any level as expectations might have had you believe, otherwise.

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