BLACK KIDS, "Partie Traumatic" ★★
Letdown of the season: "Partie Traumatic," the awfully titled debut by Jacksonville, Fla., quintet Black Kids, was supposed to be a giddy dance-floor delight that would put the bomp in 1980s Morrissey and The Cure revivalism. That's what last year's terrific "Wizard of Ahhs" EP would have led you to believe, and the standard that the shined-up version of the absolutely fabulous single "I'm Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You" lived up to. But the best songs on this disappointing "Partie" - along with "Boyfriend," "Hurricane Jane" and "I've Underestimated My Charm (Again)" - were on Wizard, and singer Reggie Youngblo
WIRE "Object 47" ★★★
Formed during the clamor of Brit punk's first wave (its 1977 debut, Pink Flag, came months after the Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols"), Wire has never made things easy. Ominous vocalists/songwriters Colin Newman and Graham Lewis, guitarist Bruce Gilbert and drummer Robert Grey leapt from sharded art punk ("Chairs Missing") to noir electronics ("154") to irked industrial ("The Ideal Copy") to aggressive skronk ("Send") during the band's stop 'n' start career. But two things they've never done are record without Gilbert and create gorgeously celebratory pop.
Wire starts this new adventure with its most chipper track, "One of Us," a speeding, hummable tune with an epically melodic bass, an impassioned Newman vocal and one of its most spiteful lyrics in "one of us will live to rue the day we met each other." Neither the catty catchphrases nor the contagious choruses end there. While Newman provides warm crunching guitar sounds, Lewis' rueful voice picks through the Dadaist lyrics and tipsy melody of "Are You Ready?" with oddball tenderness. Wire does big rock with dense layers ("Perspex Icon"). Wire does lean funk with colorful choruses ("Hard Currency") while maintaining its patented looming, distanced, cool demeanor.
Wire may sound warmer than ever, but you'll never hear them sweat.
MILEY CYRUS "Breakout" ★★★
Robert Hazard's about to get a lot richer. That's thanks to Miley Cyrus, the Disney tween money-printing princess who, on her second album under her own name, has recorded the Philadelphia rocker's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," which already did quite handsomely by Hazard with Cyndi Lauper's iconic 1984 hit version. In Cyrus' hands, "Girls" isn't a feminist rallying cry so much as a call for help from a super-earning, overworked 15-year-old who just wants to be, you know, normal. A similar theme is explored in the annoyed fuzz-rocker "Fly on the Wall," in which Cyrus just wishes peeping paparazzi types would mind their own beeswax.
It's a tricky business to transition to the almost-grown-up world without leaving a 10-year-old fan base behind, and "Breakout" stumbles trying to balance Avril-lite pop punkers with saccharine ballads like "Goodbye." That "if you text it, I'll delete it," line in the kiss-off first single, "7 Things," is pretty cute, though.
JAY REATARD, "Singles 06-07" (In The Red, 3 stars)
Reatard has all the makings of a punk hero: dropped out of high school to make music at 15, released 7-inch records like subscription magazines, and adopted an unforgettable stage name hoping to class himself with Johnny Rotten. That aptitude for doing as he pleases - be it posing in blood-drenched skivvies for an album cover or photographing his own puke for his blog - won him a deal with Matador.
This CD of vinyl-only singles is jumpy enough to make you believe he'd punch an audience member in the face after any one. But the songwriting is out of reach, spirited and not very memorable. Compare the Go-Betweens cover ("Don't Let Him Come Back") to everything else and only the catchy "Hammer I Miss You" quite stands up. Maybe he's saving it for the real album.
_ Dan Weiss
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