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Matt & Kim - Grand

Matt & Kim, Grand

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

MATT & Kim are an emerging mini phenomenon. But then they seem to know how to get themselves noticed. And running naked through New York’s Time Square sure as hell helps!

They did that for latest video Lessons Learned and have since amassed 1.6 million YouTube views and 4.6 million audio streams on MySpace. Sensationalist or clever? In Matt & Kim’s case, both.

If, as we suspect, the gimmick ensures they attract notoriety and success, it also ensures that you’ll discover quite a charming new outfit.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Matt & Kim are a musically adventurous, and pretty darn fun, double act who deserve to cut a swathe through the mainstream. Johnson takes care of the keys while Kim Schifino handles the drums to create a magnetic mutation of dance and punk.

When they get it right, their sound is hugely endearing, occasionally kooky and fearlessly non-conformist. It’s radio-friendly… but it doesn’t always do the things you’d expect to make it that way.

Lessons Learned, for example, opens amid a flurry of drums and a dream-like, slacker “da da da da” opening vocal from Kim, which lulls you into a false sense of bliss before Matt’s slightly more punky vocals take over. It’s a heady, livewire mix that drops a fantastic chorus and an immense sense of playfulness. You should be addicted before even having to seek out the naked video!

But if that’s the song that provides an entry point to Matt & Kim’s world… you’ll be sure to stick around once there. Songs such as Daylight, with its loopy, wonky synth and piano pop, is a fanastically positive album opener that’s alive with energy.

And Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare is another piano-soaked humdinger that drops a funky, hand-clappy back beat to beef up the kookiness. It’s hopelessly addictive.

Spare Change slows the pace somewhat and strips things down somewhat to ensure the vocals come to the fore more, while I Wanna is a frenzy of synth loops and slacker ambition (“I wanna sleep through the weekend”) that’s both intuitive and refreshingly juvenile.

For once, too, the reliance on synths doesn’t drag it too far down ’80s revival territory. Rather, they’re inventing their own sound of now and it’s fast, forward-thinking and of the moment. Don’t Slow Down is an apt name for a track that seems to sum up the Matt & Kim ethos – keep it fast, keep it friendly, get noticed and get out. Then, maybe, people will keep coming back for more of a fix.

In Grand‘s case, you’ll want to hear it over and over again. Not every track packs the same kind of punch as the very best tracks (but then few albums consistently do), but with I’ll Take Us Home and Cinders also providing efffervescent, sparky fun, this is 26 minutes of listening pleasure that’s pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Download picks: Daylight, Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare, Lessons Learned, I Wanna, I’ll Take Us Home

Track listing:

  1. Daylight
  2. Cutdown
  3. Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare
  4. Spare Change
  5. I Wanna
  6. Lessons Learned
  7. Don’t Slow Down
  8. Turn This Boat Around
  9. Cinders
  10. I’ll Take Us Home