For almost a year before the release of their debut record, Florida's Black Kids were reliable music blog fodder. First, the breathless discovery, then the breathless confirmation at 2007's CMJ Conference and then breathless speculation on what label the band would end up on (Almost Gold/Columbia) and finally, the question of whether or not the record could possibly live up to the breathless expectations. The answer to that question is a little tricky. It'd be tough for any band to fully measure up to some of the claims and praise being thrown the Black Kids way and they don't. Not completely, though they give it their all. What the band has done instead is make a solid, sometimes exciting, always interesting debut album. Nothing too groundbreaking or unique because, like many 2000s kids, Black Kids are '80s kids and just about every sound on Partie Traumatic can be traced back to that era. Reggie Youngblood's vocals usually channel the Cure's Robert Smith, as do a large percentage of the songs; the perky, cheerleader vocals from Dawn Watley and Ali Youngblood sound like an All-American version of the girls in the Human League, Kevin Snow seems particularly fond of the drum patterns from David Bowie's "Modern Love" (for good reason), and the group employs a wide variety of wonderfully cheesy synths. Bernard Butler's production captures the energy of the band but also gives them a slick, very '80s-sounding sheen for good measure. What the group brings to the table are a couple of things that help them stand out from the '80s bandwagon. One is the goofy, unpredictable lyrics that knock you off guard from the very first (a knock-knock joke involving underwear that could be a deal-breaker but somehow works thanks to Youngblood's feckless delivery) and remain charmingly off-kilter throughout. Another thing that makes the record good is the songcraft. Youngblood seemingly can't write a song without a sticky-sweet chorus; every song could be a single. The best songs on the album ("I'm Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You," "Hit the Heartbrakes," "Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo)") kick you in the gut with their energy and verve, the rest are only a notch below. By the time the album comes to a frenetic, sweat-soaked close, the sound and the songs add up to something pretty impressive. Surely, the Black Kids backlash is probably getting into gear elsewhere and people are readying words like "underwhelming," but really, Partie Traumatic is a very good debut that manages to earn a huge chunk of the hype that was thrown willy-nilly in the band's direction.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra