November 4, 2010

Test Spins: Matt & Kim

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If you enjoyed “Daylight,” the dance-rock hit of Matt & Kim’s second album, Grand, you will enjoy their latest effort, Sidewalks. Otherwise, don’t bother.

The Brooklyn-based duo, consisting of Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino, have created another synth-heavy, simple but catchy album that will keep kids dancing until their next album.

What their fans, especially in concert, won’t realize — and probably won’t care about — is that their songs are based off the same tried-and-true bubblegum pop method: Mix Johnson’s happy, sing-songy voice with simple synth beats and a drumline and, voila, another dance-happy song.

Sidewalks features much of the same as Grand, but lacks the crunchy dance-punk that makes their second and most successful album more than just another electro-rock album. In the few instances where Sidewalks diverges from its typical methods, it features a mixed-bag of emo and chamber pop-infused songs.

Their lyrics leave something to be desired, although they complement the simplicity of their song structure and instrumentation. In a particularly low point, the closing track strings together repetitive synth lines with profound lyrics such as “Ice melts all around me / together we will / make it freeze.”

“Northeast,” their attempt at chamber pop, diverges from Johnson’s typical catchy shout sing and optimistic life’s a party approach, by reflecting on his time in New York City. Reflections aside, Johnson’s optimistic voice shines through this attempt at slowing down the album.

“Wires,” one of the high points of the album, mixes the tempo and strays away from their typical repetitiveness. While still relying on the same song structure, this track calls to mind the dance-punk of their earlier albums.

Regardless, they are successful at creating another enthusiastic album of dance floor indie rock. It’s definitively another Matt & Kim album — and, after all, all of this is a moot point when you’re dancing to their happy jams on a Friday night.


Original Author: Chris Leo Palermino