new music: black kids return after 10 years with the hook-filled ‘rookie’ a new synth pop ode to teenage heartbreak #soundcheck

March 20, 2017

Jacksonville, Florida’s Black Kids careened onto the stage in 2008 with the ludicrously catchy and equally ludicrously titled “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You,” and then promptly sauntered off. It’s been nearly a decade since their last album, but the Kids are back with the joyfully nostalgic Rookie.

It doesn’t re-write the book so much as add a new chapter belatedly, sort of like the George RR Martin of synth pop. The band’s hallmarks are all there: shoutalong choruses, vintage synths, dance beats, charmingly awkward songs of teenage heartbreak, and lead singer Reginald Youngblood’s perpetual ode to The Cure. Though there’s nothing quite as gloriously hook-filled as “Dance,” a few of the songs come dangerously close, like the title track, lead single “In a Song,” and “IFFY.” But most striking is the band’s biggest deviation from their trademark sound, “Obligatory Drugs” which sounds a bit like if Depeche Mode had been hired to write a late 80’s anti-drug PSA. Prior to this weekend that’s not a thing I knew I needed in my life, but what is teenage heartbreak if not an opportunity to grow or something. I for one, welcome the return of our synth pop overlords.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK contributor

Photo credit: Dean Chalkley