Matt & Kim – Sidewalks

New York synth pop duo Matt & Kim have been quick to capitalize on the hype that their second album, Grand, created last year, by quickly releasing their new album Sidewalks. A further exploration into their simple world of keys and drums but this time with a few added elements that suggest more in depth song writing than the simple, yet catchy, party jams of their back catalogue. A notable difference is the inclusion of other instrumentation such as violins and horn sections to give the songs some interesting colour.

The duo makes their stance clear straight away with the heavily electronic opener, Block After Block, which features odd timed vocals and gang shouts, a song noticeably more produced than their previous works. The record’s first single, Cameras, has an alternative hip-hop feel about it, and some very catchy melody lines that make it the biggest attention grabber on the album. Every now and then Matt & Kim throwback to their older, rawer sound with tracks such as Red Paint and Silver Tiles, however the majority of the music has a new sheen to it, an expected change considering the band’s higher profile.

The group’s new direction can be exemplified in Where You’re Coming From, laced with a swirling piano and constantly building with horns and well placed percussion, this song is a sample of the depth this band has to offer. The album is not without is slower ballad sections, especially in Northeast, which turns the energy knob down for a necessary break. Everything ends with Ice Melts, a song that seems like a collection of sections from the rest of the album, like a little summary to remind you of what you have just heard.

One of the reasons why people loved Grand was because of its DIY feel, being recorded in a basement and all, and in a way Sidewalks has lost that a little. The good news is the energy and playfulness that this music and Matt & Kim release is still as present as it has ever been, just with a bigger budget.