As members of Generation Z continue flooding the workforce while grappling with the existential dread of adulthood, a hunger for early 2000s nostalgia has entered the cultural zeitgeist. Though the silicone bombast of Hyperpop music has successfully reframed those formative years into a fantasia of cybernetic fashion and genre bending, Pop Punk-reviving camp, Missouri-based trio BLACKSTARKIDS offer a more intimate, pastel-toned recollection of the past. Specializing in lo-fi composition and ultra-optimistic energy, they sound like a garage band from a coming-of-age flick or Degrassi episode come to life — in the best way possible.
2020’s SURF, the band’s sophomore effort, is the perfect soundtrack to slacking off on summer days. The band fuses Hip Hop and Alt-Rock in a way that feels decidedly less cynical than many of their peers aiming for the same, threading adorably Autotuned choruses through jangly guitar riffs and glistening Synth Pop chord progressions. You can trace a path from BLACKSTARKIDS’ casual vocal delivery to the twee affectations of seminal Indie Rock band Beat Happening, but comparisons to ’90s Conscious Rap collective Arrested Development feel just as apt.
WHATEVER, MAN, released later last year, marked the band’s debut with British label Dirty Hit, which also houses The 1975. Though the overall sound hasn’t changed much, their Pop songwriting chops have sharpened, resulting in two excellent celebrity-obsessed singles: “FRANKIE MUNIZ” and “BRITNEY, BITCH.” Though BLACKSTARKIDS may not be Pop stars yet, we can still dream about the big time alongside them.
BLACKSTARKIDS performs at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine). Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test from the prior 72 hours is required.
More info: motrpub.com.
Watch "BRITNEY, BITCH" below:
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