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Something for the summer: the 2008 Black Kids album


Sunshine and warmth have entered the Northern hemisphere once again and it’s time to frolic in the lush summer world. I’ve been thinking of doing some sort of list of Flint’s Awesome Summertime Listening Albums but I think I might just randomly talk about them one by one (if I can be arsed), seeing as I’m inspired to devote a whole ramble to the unfortunately forgotten Black Kids debut album. It’s a perfect summertime pop album – it nails down the upbeat, sunny feel you’re looking for in a summer album perfectly, and it has enough brains behind the whole thing to offer something for the analysts among us as well.

It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for Black Kids. The way they were covered with ridiculous amounts of hype from the very beginning and subsequently shrugged off and pushed away when the debut album didn’t meet the insanely exceeded, unrealistic expectations is one of the best examples of the trend of the indie animal eating its young (there’s a brilliant writeup on it here). Ever since the release of Partie Traumatic, their 2008 debut, they’ve more or less disappeared off the map, with the only clue they’re still alive being that Wikipedia tells they’re writing songs for a new album. And that piece of text has been there for a forever and a half. It’s starting to become a bit unsure if there’s ever going to be a follow-up, and that’s a great shame.

Call me a bit silly but I can’t help but feel that a lot of the cold shoulder treatment was completely misplaced because of the hype pulling the carriage in one direction while the band themselves were going towards another. Partie Traumatic was never going to be the sort of big event album that unifies the whole broken base of indierockdom: those albums tend to be grand giants that seem to condense the artist’s heart and soul into music and offer a personal experience for the crowds that get their rocks off to that. Partie Traumatic on the other hand is a pop album about boy-meets-girl scenarios, driven by slick hooks and made for dance floors. Things like these tend to be divisive and how it somehow ended up as the next messiah album somewhat baffles me.

But the most annoying thing in that is that because of the reaction, Partie Traumatic has been quietly dusted off underneath the carpet and that’s a shame. It’s not a classic album, but it’s been made by a band who clearly know their strengths and work them with skill. The songwriting is great, the not-so-secret weapon of frequent girl/boy call-and-answer vocals are used with killer precision and the lead singer has a cheeky, witty charisma to him and while the lyrics traverse between the aforementioned boy/girl scenarios, there’s a great amount of wit and cunning word play in them that makes them a joy to listen out to. The whole project has an air of intellectuality, in lack of a better word, to it despite its clear design to make people dance – some of the musical passages, hooks and vocal interplays are done in such a great fashion that you rarely find in music like this and you can’t help but think there’s some sort of special mastermind behind it all. It’s some seriously ingenius songwriting and it turns the the music from feel-good pop music to feel-good pop music that also stimulates the appropriate mental parts every now and then when you find yourself thinking just how excellently that one particular passage of music was executed.

It’s a good album, often quite great even and a damn good debut. It operates a style that’s highly common and which is prone to lose impact over time, but not only does it sound like it’s clearly by one specific group but it has also stayed fresh all this time. The sorta-hit “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend” still sounds as good as ever and it’s not even near the best parts of the album; the bounce-a-licious “Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo), moodier groove of “Hurricane Jane” and the party freakout title track would be my particular track choices. That’s why it’s a bit annoying that the collective consciousness has forgotten all about it: not only because it was a bit of a painful entry to the big world for a new band, but because Partie Traumatic is an excellently capable album.

If you’re looking for some excellently made dance-rock/pop for your summer, here’s your thing to try.

Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo)

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