Matt & Kim: Sidewalks

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Posted November 15, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

Smart party punk with experiments into hip-hop and pop highlight new disc from indie rock duo

Indie rock couple Matt & Kim has been enjoying a great ascent into pop exposure. With their new wave-inspired synth-pop, Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino have secured a handful of music licensing credits with video games (NBA Live, The Sims 3, Need for Speed), Bicardi and even on NBC’s ‘Community’. But the dynamic duo are much more than some jolly jingle incubator. On their latest album, Sidewalks, Matt & Kim may seem like a musical pair patterning themselves after The Bird and the Bee, but their do-it-yourself philosophy while experimenting with a wide array of musical designs from experimental hip-hop to sugary new wave is more than enough to keep them away from the obvious conventions. The album’s dazzling surprise, “Cameras,” uses college band tuba and hip-hop spunk to carve out a sweet poetic description of happy days with a watchful eye on the clock (“No time for cameras/We’ll use our eyes instead/No time for cameras/We’ll be gone when we’re dead). Matt & Kim’s experiments in pop’s nectar continue to arise: “Block After Block” – with its Tears for Fears smarts – sounds like a decent stab at Top 40 hip-hop, “Good for Great” crafts adult-contemporary string coating over crossover hip-hop, and the closing tune “Ice Melts” merges muted reggaeton beats into an ‘80’s horn fest. All isn’t club-driven on Sidewalks: there’s a few punk rock party starters that give off echoes of 2009’s Grand, like the whirly ‘80’s synth offering “Silver Ties” and “Where You’re Coming From,” but much of it is adventurous in their expeditions of pop’s escapades rather than resting comfortably in their indie pad.

Let’s face it: Matt & Kim don’t necessarily rely on strong pop melodies and rhyme standards to carry their songs, instead they focus on keyboard quirks, brainy party lyrics and wizardry presentation. And their newfound odes to emo are cunningly being carved into some of the songs’ tapestry. But it’s quite obvious that the preppy punk duo are growing in their affection for club beats. Kim is opening her drumming presentation to include handclaps and anything else that can supplement a good beat. On their next record we may be witnessing a group with light fair infatuations for Devo records transform into a hip-hop/pop production team with an itch for Kanye West.

J MATTHEW COBB

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HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 02 November 2010
  • Label: Fader Label
  • Producers: Ben Allen, Matt Johnson, Oliver Straus
  • Track Favs: Cameras, Block After Block, Where You’re Comin From

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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