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Pitchfork Explains The 'Black Kids' Backtrack

These dogs have bad news for Black Kids. Image: Pitchfork Media hide caption

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Image: Pitchfork Media

Very early this morning, before we did the show, the music website Pitchforkmedia.com posted today's reviews, leading with the debut album, Partie Traumatic, from the Florida band Black Kids.

When I logged on at 6:30 a.m., the site's front page showed a link to the review with the curious tease "Everybody makes mistakes." The review itself was sharper. The site gave the album a lowest-possible 0.0 (Pitchfork scores records up to 10.0) along with a photo of two small dogs and the caption "Sorry :-/" as the only written commentary.

Slightly funny, slightly mean. Then things got interesting. Some time between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., the review, which is credited to Pitchfork editor-in-chief Scott Plagenhoef, got a facelift. The front page tease now reads as follows:

"After a well-received EP, Jacksonville's Black Kids release a Bernard Butler-produced debut that surprisingly hit the top 5 in the UK."

The score was changed from 0.0 to 3.3.

I couldn't find a screen grab of the original post, but you can see discussion of the double zeros at Drowned in Sound message boards.

I e-mailed Plagenhoef to ask about the change. He writes that the first score was "simply a regrettable computer error," and that the review "was accidentally up when we woke and it was changed asap."

Pitchfork has a history of using the reviews on its site to prank bands -- this review of the first album by the Australian band Jet is memorable -- and they have dished out perfect zeros in the past.

Last November, Pitchfork writer Mark Hogan gave an 8.4 to the Wizard of Ahhhs EP that Black Kids released on myspace, calling the band "good natured pop-cultural sponges" who "make catchy, tightly executed songs that put a memorable stamp on pop's classic themes."

Pitchfork's number scores are determined by the individual writer who does the review, so it's possible that Plagenhoef just disagreed with Hogan. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a young band didn't deliver on its promise. Or maybe it's just that the site's editors were still in recovery mode after this weekend's Pitchfork Festival in Chicago and really just didn't catch the error.