Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
He's likely not any more, if he ever was, but Reggie Youngblood - the lead singer of Black Kids - could have been a mutterer. The things that he said under his breath all those times that were not working out for him - when the girls were dancing with their beefcakes, making kissy faces at all of the fucks who were bound to go on to be shit-faced marketing technicians or financial consultants and live for Thursday nights and their precious slow-pitch softball league or when he was just caught in the middle of their labyrinth of disdain and snootiness - were what he's now turned into the songs that he's able to wave triumphantly in their faces.
It must be a rewarding new phase that he's moved into, being able to command the attention and more importantly (it seems to him), to command the quality of attention that doesn't look one way under the lights and another when the dark is turned up and dance halls and club sounds, tints and hotness even the tables - when there is less to be picky about or just when there's no vanity preventing natural attractions and tendencies. If you put all of the lyrics that Youngblood penned for the Florida band's debut album Partie Traumatic together into one hat and were asked to pin the tail on some kind of reoccurring web that holds them all together and makes them an undeniable family, it would be simple to do.
We're talking about the words of a self-described ex-wallflower that have a kind of confidence to them that comes when the decision has been made that girls - or the girls that one thinks he should be with at the time - tend to behave like brainless and infuriating cads, with eyes and appreciation for all that glitters and all that bulges over brains and the nice guy. The nice guys - who can be or don't have to be put inside quotation marks - by definition feel as if they're in last place, but there's often, as there is in Youngblood's words, an insistence that they're not buried.
There's always a time for a comeback, for those dumb, short-sighted broads to snap out of their trance (maybe get to college) and finally see all of guys that have been in front of their dolled up eyes all along. They'll begin to think things like, "Wow, and to think that we went to high school for four years together and we're just now really getting to know each other? I can't believe this, can you?" Mock agreement will follow and then things just go on and turn into whatever they will. Youngblood and the music that Black Kids make - using new formulas, replica parts from Robert Smith and John Hughes scrapbooks - is full of this attitude of the conquering hero who sticks to his guns, continues being the cool social/dating outcast and finally gets to call some of the shots without having to resort to roofies or any funny business. Or it's just a dream sequence perpetrated by the faux hero cooking up all of the various ways that he could someday rides that white horse into the scene and swoop the girl up without her resisting any of it.
The way it could play out at the end of the songs is Youngblood still finding himself disappointed in the girls he's dealing with, even after having won one or more of them over. It's either that or there's no white horse anywhere, just a lawnmower like the one that Ronald Miller and Cindy Mancini ride off on at the end of "Can't Buy Me Love." Youngblood, in a t-shirt with bright and flashy off-set lettering that he bought from Threadless or the like, kicks the mower into gear with the reformed, cheerleader/prom queen combo (also now wearing slinky, skin-hugging Diesel jeans and sporting designs from the Threadless archives) wrapping her arms around his waist as it jerks into motion. They let out a simultaneous, gut-busting, true happiness laugh and the story's told - with Skee-Lo playing in the background as the horizon bleeds into a cool night sky. The problem is that these nights are the sorts of environments that make people crazy in the first place so Youngblood and the Black Kids are eternally going to be in the cage, fending off the frivolous whimsy of hearts and heartbrakes, evenings when it's hot as balls, confusing double-speak and body language and the general wrecking ball that attraction is without remorse.