Black Kids' self-released EP Wizard of Ahhhs, four tracks of synthesizer-heavy, high-energy pop songs with angsty lyrics, was released via the band's MySpace page last year. It featured the truly fantastic "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You," which became a hipster party anthem and scored spots on many media outlets' "best of" lists (Best Single, Best Download, Best Unsigned Florida Band With a Singer Who Sounds Exactly Like Robert Smith, etc.). A signal was sent: Indie kids want to dance and yell again. Columbia Records signed the Kids, and Partie Traumatic was recorded ... in a mere 17 days.
It shows. The best songs on Partie Traumatic are remastered tracks from Wizard of Ahhhs: the soaring "Hurricane Jane," with its yelping wails; "I've Underestimated My Charm (Again)"; "Hit the Heartbrakes" and its nicely done boy-girl vocal trade-offs; and the aforementioned "I'm Not Going to Teach." The new songs feel like pale imitations of these strong tracks.
Fervent reviewers are crediting Black Kids with breaking down barriers of sexism, racism and homophobia, because ... well, I'm not sure. Because two of the band members are, in fact, African American? And two are female? And front man Reggie Youngblood often refers to himself as a "girl" in his lyrics? Really? That's all it takes to break down institutionalized racism, sexism and homophobia? Hmmm.
Black Kids could go on to write some more great songs, but I must appropriate a quote from Neil Young: "Just singing a song won't change the world."