Matt and Kim’s ‘Sidewalks’ delivers aural sugar rush

Christopher Nguyen

Brooklyn-based duo Matt and Kim do not know what restraint is; stuffing drumbeats, major chords, piano melodies, synths, lyrical hooks and shouting vocals into a blender and sticking whatever comes out on an album. It sounds like one hell of a time, and the duo keeps the good times rolling with its third album, Sidewalks.

If there is one major difference between their second album, Grand, and this album, it’s that this one is catchier and more immediate. On the first song “Block After Block,” the synthesized beats do not sound too far from a Top 40 hip-hop infused pop song, especially with the “yeah”s that jump in and out of the song. No matter what any hipster tells you, Matt and Kim make pop music, but their best songs always had an off-kilter, hard edge to them. The exuberance and the joy of their debut album get lost with Sidewalks because the tracks begin to become indistinguishable. They all sound almost too perfect and too calculated to be fun songs.

Oddly enough, the songs that stick out the most are the slower ones that build up to something more than ear candy. On “Northeast,” singer Matt Johnson longingly sings for his favorite part of the country over restrained synths, tambourines and piano chords. With songs like that, Matt and Kim lose the guise of being only about jamming out.

Sidewalks provides a little more than 30 minutes of ear candy, but Matt and Kim would do well to stick something a little rougher and substantial to the blender on their next album.

For fans of: Sleigh Bells, Blink-182 and Discovery