On their breakout single, the Killers complained about losing women to girly-man indie boys; poised for fame, frontman Brandon Flowers was perhaps anticipating a backlash and pre-emptively hurling rocks at those effeminate tastemakers who would soon dismiss his band as mainstream pap. Black Kids, who, by virtue of similar industry hype and ’80s influences, might be this year’s Killers, take a less defensive tact: They arrive with “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You,” a lead single and enduring blog fave that finds singer Reggie Youngblood embracing androgyny, referring to himself as “a little girl.”
It’s one of several moments on Partie Traumatic wherein the Kids juggle gender roles and wink at an audience they’re more interested in entertaining than impressing. To this interracial Florida quintet, the twentysomething indie-rock life is a ridiculous free-for-all: a tangle of tingling bodies that should be celebrated with Human League synths, not criticized from afar. As far as eagerly anticipated debuts go, Partie Traumatic is loose and unforced in its extreme eagerness to please. The Kids make no attempts to edit groaner lyrics or hide their obsession with melody. If they worked at Dunkin’ Donuts, they’d fill the jelly ones until they exploded.That pop enthusiasm inspires some unusual new-wave references: The title track features post-ska-era Madness piano accents, while “I’m Making Eyes at You” is likely this decade’s first homage to General Public, though its theory about how make-believe love can be better than the real thing marks the album’s most honest moment. Elsewhere, on tunes like “Hit the Heartbreaks,” Reggie struts through silly lothario fantasies, asserting a confidence expertly undercut by his band’s geeky fervor. He’s drunk on the bubbles, but really, who can blame him?
Black Kids play Santos’ Party House July 25