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Black Kids:: Partie Traumatic (Album Review)

Short-shrifted by overzealous myth chasers when their solid four-song teaser EP, Wizard of Ahhhs, received accolades all too obviously disproportionate to its slight stature, Jacksonville’s Black Kids had my sympathy and my skepticism heading into their full-length debut. But Partie Traumatic not only overcomes its ponderous pre-hype, it also shows that emo might not be today’s only hope for romantic pop. The tensest moment comes in the silence just after “I’m Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance,” the hot-stepping climax. How (you might nervously wonder) will the band, just seven songs into their career, close out their so-far-scorching debut set of nü-Motown synth-soul? But the expected slow-jam comedown never arrives. Instead we get three more great pop songs (all up-tempo, pacing conventions be damned) ranging from sour-cherries I-need-all-of-you disco to strutting Rapture-redolent independence disco. Imagine a Robert Smith who asks for no pity and you have lead vocalist Reggie Youngblood, whose citrusy man-boy wailings intensify the slick “Hit the Heartbreaks” and “Hurricane Jane.” The lyrics run, uh, let’s say straightforward, but Black Kids know as well as any good sentimentalists that delivery is everything; teenage yearning couldn’t hope for a much better vehicle than their pouting power pop.