Charm is a quality that is sometimes missing from the soundscapes of artists, and it primarily comes from lacking humility. BLACKSTARKIDS are a rare breath of fresh air with an identity that equates to a bunch of friends basking in emotional connectivity they have as musicians. From the beginning, BLACKSTARKIDS have kept my attention stirring — hearing the fun in their vocal performances and instrument playing added different layers to the context they are singing. As young musicians, their purview on any subject matter carries maturity and vanity, with Ty, Deiondre, and Gabe leading the way as competent songwriters. The three continue to explore the foundation behind coming-of-age, focusing on unique subjects and analogies to make their presence known. Having been enamored with “Britney Bitch,” they continue to keep my focus as their new LP, Puppies Forever, ups the charm, keeping you engaged throughout.
Containing a confined sense of whimsy and exuberant energy, the three lead artists allow the differentiating layers to feel an essence of self — the music never feels derivative of a style and instead implementing elements from a range of influences. The predominately polished pop-punk sound of the mid-00s, mixed with the experimental nature of rappers, like Tyler, the Creator, allow them to stand on two feet sounding, original and refreshing. Ty Faizon opens the album by taking the microphone and describing the carefree-fun nature, and at times, mature lyricism that keeps them grounded and derailing into goofy songwriting.
BLACKSTARKIDS have been slowly growing and discovering themselves, as prevalent from the songwriting — either expressing the maturity through the context of relationships and adolescents adults trying to make their way in this world. “Clueless America” exemplifies their countercultural movement of the rambunctious kids deliberating where the fun can be had that involves an excess of understanding and chaos as they act like they are perceived. They are humbling and radical at the same time, focusing on their pride and joy — something that can lead to money under certain pretenses.
It breathes onto other songs, some of which hit the nail on the coffin with songs that fluster your mind that carefree attitude — it can come across with tonal complexions based on the subject matter. With “Clueless America,” they tackle the idea of the American Dream compared to their generation; with “Fight Club,” they flex their confidence with a charming bravado — you are on a journey the BLACKSTARKIDS.
The carefree and loving nature sometimes comes across as a mask since they aren’t ones to beat around the bush. “Juno” sees the trio focusing on pushing their woes to the side as they focus on the positives, as referenced by the chorus’ action that makes you want to dance. The song makes references to depression and suicidal thoughts, which are tossed aside for any positive outlook. It translates into “Piss Drunk Kids,” focusing on carefree youth pissing away the dour moments with bright ones — more layers are added to one of the themes, friendship, making way for a fun song about enjoying the time you have now. The song “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun” makes you forget any worries for a brief moment — let the stressors release and inhale vibrant production and deliveries.
It’s not that rare for them to sway from their carefree charm, evident with a few songs on the album. It doesn’t derail their inner punk-rocker, delivering a solid-bombastic rock anthem in “All Cops Are Bastards.” They focus on the unfortunate deaths at the hand of police officers that have occurred throughout the past few years, specifically, George Floyd — spoken through their eyes. It benefits from a screeching sonic foundation, letting you see past simple lyrics that reflect as much as the next artist. The lack of derailment comes from their angst — hitting you immediately as they rock on and personify their revolt-like energy that stems from the current climate on “Revolt-Syndrome.” Unlike the former, “Revolt-Syndrome,” hits at every angle — one minute, it transfixes you by the bombastic percussion contrasting the opening song’s soft cadence and then hits the landing with their more relatable lyrics. The angst derives from their youths but also their understanding of the bigger picture. As prevalent with the lyrics: “And my parents on my back about things I can’t control/I can’t help it if I want to be a rockstar on the road/What’s the lesser of the evils? Go to school or risk all?/Man, I’d rather drop dead than go to college in the fall.”
Upon delivering their new LP, Puppies Forever, BLACKSTARKIDS, keep me charmed to my knickers, leaving me to want to follow their exploration in music. They have the consistent energy and flows that keep you enticed, even when the songs fall flat in the long run. It is a release from the alternative group that didn’t have me questioning their motives for a certain song’s inclusions, and I can honestly keep it flowing without skipping a beat.