Album Review

Matt and Kim "Sidewalks"

Marty Connors
Matt & Kim's previous release, Grand, was a straightforward keyboard/drums album. While relentlessly upbeat, it wasn't necessarily innovative in any way. It's an album I enjoy, but wouldn't rave about. It's aural junk food; it's just that sometimes I really enjoy a bag of Doritos.

The follow up to Grand, Sidewalks, finds Matt & Kim trying to expand their sound, and they don't waste any time establishing this fact. The album opener, “Block After Block,” begins with Matt's filtered vocals, sounding like he's singing through a megaphone, before the music kicks in. And it's the music that is the biggest change on this new album. Synthesized hand claps and bass lines announce that the duo have found their inner hip-hop artists. I dare you to listen to the album's third track, “Cameras,” and not think the melody sounds vaguely like a Ludacris track. It could be a remix of “Get Back.”

But, for fans of past Matt & Kim releases, if this has you worried, you can relax. Despite this unlikely evolution of their sound, the familiar Matt & Kim melodies remain. Much like Grand, none of the songs on Sidewalks are likely to stick in your head for a long time, but they're pleasant enough while you're listening. And the hip-hop sensibilities actually add some needed variety. Although most Matt & Kim songs rarely last longer than 4 minutes, the keyboard/drums combo can become a bit tiring. The synthesized flourishes lend each song its own identity, so a song like “Cameras” sounds vastly different from, say, “Good For Great.”

Sidewalks is a better album than Grand was, if only for the interesting change in sound for Matt & Kim. I'm not going to praise it relentlessly, but it's a fun album none-the-less. It doesn't overstay its welcome, and holds occasional surprises for fans of the duo. Sometimes a little junk food is just what I need.