Soon after they released their first album, Partie Traumatic, Black Kids vanished from sight. They were a victim of the unrealistic hype surrounding their early days, when bloggers and media types blew their potential so sky high that only the second coming of the Beatles could have satisfied their outsized claims. As it was, the band's debut album was full of fun and frolicsome '80s-inspired tunes, played with gusto and verve, and fronted by a classically goofy and larger-than-life singer. Sadly, almost nobody liked it. It's hard to blame the band for taking it on the run; it's hard to explain why they decided to come back after almost a decade away. It could be the family connection within the band; it could be that nobody can withstand the nostalgic urges that have taken the place of looking for the next big thing. It could be that Reggie Youngblood and company took a look around and saw that their style of "everything at once" pop was the order of the day and they wanted to come back and get a piece of the action. Anyone expecting Rookie to be too much different than Partie is barking up the wrong tree. The first three songs sound like they could have been lifted from it; they share the same glittery '80s sheen, stadium-huge hooks, and oddly emotional kick. "If My Heart Is Broken" even has the "Modern Love" drumbeat that was all over Partie. Apart from the slightly less polished production, it's like ten minutes has elapsed, not ten years. As the album progresses, things get a little looser as Youngblood's lyrics get a little weirder and the songs get a little more updated, with some disco ("Natural Born Kissers"), slinky sophisti-pop ("Illin'"), and cheesy Ace of Base-style pop ("All the Emotions") added to the mix. It's a strong comeback, with only the last two songs failing to impress. Both "Obligatory Drugs" and "Way into Leather" tip over into camp; they both lack the lyrical snap and musical strut of the best songs here, like "In a Song" and the title track. Black Kids got a raw deal back in the day, and while it's unlikely that they will set the world on fire with Rookie, at least the expectations are less unrealistic this time. The most anyone could hope for now is something fun, flashy, and occasionally goofy, and that's exactly what the band has delivered.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra