28 December 2007

Black Kids - 'I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You'

Yes, we're even further behind the blogging curve than usual here. All the most fashionable places have been raving about these people for simply months now. Even newspapers now tip Black Kids, in those none-more-tiresome year end filler pieces, as one to watch in 2008, which of course makes them so 2007. But there's something been on my mind here, which I may as well offload. The purpose of these pages is pretty much only to praise - to assert the supremacy of an emotional, non-rational and enthusiastic response to music. It's all about things that I think are great and I want to tell other people are great. Sniping is usually confined to the margins, with only the occasional aside about how shit XFM is, or how lazy most record shops are. But here's my proposition about Black Kids: they only have one good song.

And it's a belter. I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You is perfect. Big chorus, sexually ambiguous lyrics, life-affirming sing-along stuff, in short. It sent me dancing, spiralling around my kitchen in absolute rapture the other Saturday morning, and not much can. It found its way onto most of the compilation CDs I press into the reluctant hands of acquaintances. But I'd suggest there's no point those people investigating further if they like what they hear sandwiched between The Teenagers and The Fall. The rest of what they offer is painfully derivative stuff - 80% The Cure, 20% Arcade Fire. (I blame Arcade Fire for a lot, by the way. 2007 was the year that the large number of bands who'd decided to sound like them were pushed towards us by idiot record companies.) It's weak, unfinished stuff, like first rehearsal tapes prematurely exposed to the public glare.

I uphold, of course, the right of bands to have only one good song, to flare and die, to ripple the surface only briefly. Some of my favourite tunes came from one trick ponies. Apart from the brilliant Surfing Mice, did The Hermit Crabs (the 1980s ones) ever bother to make another record? If so, I don't want to hear it. It's just that I sort of feel sorry for this lot. I realised this when I saw them supporting Of Montreal a few weeks ago. Having heard their one good song, I'd arrived at ULU early in the hope of hearing it. No cheap gesture this, given the inadequacy of that venue, the bar of which is worse than the most desperate indie toilet. ('Do you have red wine?' 'No.' 'Do you have white wine?' 'No.') And they duly played their one good song in front of a half-hearted crowd, and I loved it and the rest wasn't great, and that's when my pity was pricked. They look terrific, have an eye-catching, provocative name, a logo, and are the right age, and have therefore received a wave of web hype. So they're playing to venues that are too big for them before they're ready to crowds who are quickly going to respond adversely to the hype. The trajectory of this lot is there for all to see.

I realise how old fashioned this sounds, but they haven't even put a record out yet. You download this stuff from their website. This is partly why I hadn't wanted to write about my love of this song. I still revere the physical object, believe bands ought to put records out for people to take home and adore. In our speeded up world, where 'new music', whatever that is, is venerated and everyone seems to be looking for the next new thing to break, it's like they've lived their time before that first record has even appeared. Where will this lead to? Should someone just come up with the idea of a band, promote it smartly and then we can all fall over ourselves in excitement without the band actually having to exist? Perhaps this is the point at which the world ends.

Having only recently taken this site out of mothballs after an afternoon nap that ended up lasting two and a half years, this is a conclusion I'm reluctant to suggest, but here goes: in the fast approaching New Year, perhaps we should all stop writing about music? Or if we can't do that, perhaps we can agree to give up the race to be the first to break the newest new thing and just let things find their level? No chance, eh?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd say more 20% The Go! Team, instead of The Arcade Fire. The Black Kids lack the obvious David Byrne influence that the Arcade Fire employs. The parallelisms between the Go! Team phrasings and the Black Kids song structure is too uncanny to be ignored.

Sexual ambiguity? Let's be real, this song is either written from the perspective of a lesbian or it is a girl's inner dialogue. Either way, whether she is in love with this girl, or she rejects the guy due to his "two left feet," each reading entertains lesbian connotations.

That being said, I couldn't agree with you more, this song commands that we dance, and that's one command I cannot disagree with.

Check out Kate Nash's cover of this song, it's pretty good.