The Black Kids - Partie Traumatic
Bill Cummings 01/08/2008
The meteoric rise of girl/boy five piece the Black Kids is symbolic of how swiftly 'Internet music buzz' can fire you into the stratosphere of wider recognition. Posting their ep 'Wizard of Ahhhs' for free download created a commotion, their raw guitars hinted at post punk taking on the local exuberant disco melodies of the local under-age disco. It went onto clock up impressive download figures, their first single grazed the top 10 and they were many people's tip for 2008, in fact earlier this year you couldn't escape the ragtag bunch! But with the release of their (Bernard Butler produced) debut album the questions that come to surface are “do they even warrant the huge amount of hype? Are they just another act that briefly burn brightly only to fade into relative obscurity?” Well it probably depends, whether you'd rather spend a night on the dance floor: with its euphoric highs, and end of the night lows, or one spent at the side of the bar drowning in your drink. Because this is a sherbet lemon dip of a an album if you're not in the mood- the bitter-sweet party pop will quickly dissolve to nothing on your tongue.
Initial comparisons are present and correct: frantic post punk guitars, frontman Reggie's wavering wild mood swings are one moment languid Robert Smith - the next a yelping puppy being hounded by Go!Team style doo-wop call and repeats, and the heady bounding of keyboards ringing the end of round bell. But dig a little deeper and their pot pouri of post modern influences play out like your TV set's been jammed on VH1 for the afternoon. The rather farcical squelchy laser beam funk of the title track with its surreal lines “its magic, dance magic, its Partytraumatic!” - the sound of yanky kids shamelessly stealing the songs from Bowie's Labyrinth. Much better is recent single 'Hurricane Jane' with it's hazy new romantic keyboards it sounds like ABC slinking on the dance floor with Prince. Its exalted, heartbroken, anthem 'It's Friday night and I aint got nobody so what's the use in pulling a shape' is satisfyingly triumphant. The irony laced 'I'm not going to teach my girlfriend how to dance with you' is still the best thing the Blck Kids have produced thus far, its scattergun pop even hinting at Morrissey's youbrokemyheartonthedancefloor croon.
So it becomes a disappointment then that the second half of this record saggs sobadly, Butler's rather sickly production sheen is thrown into sharp focus with guitars processed to within an inch of their lives, electro flourishes sound oddly out of place. Hell, if you listen careful enough you can hear the faint whirl of computer hard drives as protools edit away any resemblance of charm. In fact knocking off most of the band's rough edges (presumably for radio friendly play and subsequent heady ascent up the charts) most of what gives the Black Kids personality is stripped away. Bernard Butler has, in one foul swoop, become the stealer of souls. This album was produced with only one setting when the kids jumped into their Delorian and decided to go Back to the Future on our arses, and with no pit stops there's little change in pace, to break up these tunes - tracks begin to merge into one another and their perfect chrome finish starts to look a little, well, rusty. The slinky electro of 'I'm Making eyes at you' sounds like the worst kind of plastic white boy soul, with only the backing singing coming to its rescue .. While 'I wanna be a Limousine' is a doped up B52s parody, the lyrics cribbed straight from a teach yourself to dance disco handbook.
If you don't take this record too seriously, Partie Traumatic is a funride crammed with danceable rhythms and shout-out-loud lines that will filldance floors from London to LA. But if you were hoping the Back Kids could fulfill that unrealistic hype, and provide a debut of a little more substance, then your going to feel distinctly let down. Just don't be left flat on your back wondering what happens when the parties over?