The trio that is BLACKSTARKIDS don’t care about your expectations for what kind of music they make, and they are all the better for it. Since releasing their first album back in 2019, the prolific Kansas-based group has released three more full-length albums, most recently the excellent Puppies Forever, and have been earning well-deserved raves for their upbeat blend of indie pop, garage rock and hip hop.

While their first three albums were part of a “black coming of age” trilogy, the personal experiences shared in their songs continue to play an important role in the group’s songs. Often their dark, intimate stories are juxtaposed against cheery pop melodies, letting the substance of the tracks sneak up on you. One of the most powerful tracks on their latest album is “All Cops Are Bastards”, which finds the group railing against the abuse and racist treatment they’ve experienced at the hands of the police over a catchy, synth-heavy pop rock banger. With lyrics like “Call it revolution, we just call it necessary”, the track brims with a punk rock spirit that goes down easily thanks to the shimmering melody.

Another highlight on Puppies Forever is the chipper, piano-sampling “Piss Drunk Kids”. Like The Go! Team on a sugar rush, the track has a playfulness to the lyric delivery that balances the melancholy nostalgia within the narrative. Sharing stories of being alone in your room, being broken hearted, and finding yourself as things change, the shout-along chorus of “Lets get drunk! Let’s get drunk and hangout again” perfectly brings to mind post-school days of hanging with friends you may not see again for a long time.

The group is perfectly capable of making a fun pop song that is simply just fun too. “Frankie Muniz” plays on the singer having a crush on the former TV sitcom star, and “Sounds Like Fun” is a driving synth-rock, power pop number filled with joyful, love-filled lyrics. They group also gets quiet and introspective on “Music to Surf To”, a dreamy neo-soul ode to summer ending and realizing you’ve become self-destructive in your behavior.

What makes a group worthy of a Bad Ass Break-Out is being still relatively unknown yet having so many great songs it’s hard to pick which ones to sell the band on. Hopefully the three we’ve put in our Bad Ass Break-Outs Playlist can give you a good sense of why you should become aware of this group now. Listen to the songs below, and find BLACKSTARKIDS out on tour opening for beabadoobee this winter!


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