Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Matt and Kim blister through dance-punk with a smile-inducing fervor

December 14, 2010


If you’ve heard a Matt and Kim album before, this review won’t help you much: I’m about to gush about Matt and Kim, just like you did to all your friends the first time you heard about them.

But seriously, there’s so much to gush about. If you’ve never heard a Matt and Kim album, you absolutely must fix that oversight (as I did with Sidewalks). If the ubiquitous “Daylight” from Grand turned you off, I exhort you to give M+K another chance. And that one chance, if I were making the decisions, would be “Where You’re Coming From.”

“Where You’re Coming From” is everything that’s wonderful about this band. The melodic riff is a series of staccato jabs from a keyboard. The drums pound with a euphoric, jaunty rhythm that complements the separated riff. Matt jumps in with a memorable vocal line in his quirky vocal style. Kim sings some backups in the chorus to make the song even more epic. The song keeps building until it seems it can’t hold any more tension, when it simply explodes into a dance-rock frenzy. You will be hollering “Where You’re Coming From” as you dance in wild circles; if not, you might be dead.

“Silver Tiles” has a similar feel, as the bombastic toms crush through the mix unapologetically. The chorus, honed over years of Matt and Kim playing it live, is the very definition of anthemic. “Ice Melts” employs a marching band, as if their sound wasn’t huge and gleefully messy enough already. “Cameras” drops with a swagger (and, again, that marching band!) that makes me want to strut down the street with it as my personal theme music.

The only place where Matt and Kim go wrong is when they abandon their idiosyncrasies for more normal songwriting tactics, as they do on “AM/FM Sound” and “Good for Great.” Neither tune is bad, but they don’t live up to the promise of most M+K songs. They don’t have the ecstatic spark that sets Matt and Kim apart from every other synth/drums duo out there.

“Red Paint” and “Wires,” though? Totally redeeming of the errors. They overcompensate almost, as both could not be written by anyone else. They’d probably be thrown out as weird demos by Hot Chip, but they work perfectly as Matt and Kim tunes┬ábecause of their jarring bizarreness. Standouts, even.

This album already made my top ten of the year, because its exuberant take on indie rock made me smile more than any other release this year (although Tokyo Police Club and OK Go came close). Matt and Kim aren’t super technically proficient, but they are magnificent at making dance-punk-pop-whatever. Love it, love it, love it.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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