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Matt & Kim - Sidewalks

An easy departure to swallow despite its flaws.

Minimalist dance-punk duo Matt & Kim were in a difficult position heading to the studio to record their third full length release, ‘Sidewalks’. The couple was riding high after having one of the most potent crossover hits of 2009 with ‘Grand’’s synth-driven, optimistic romp ‘Daylight’. Featured in magazines, video games, and headlining major U.S. festival lineups, Matt & Kim were extolled for their potent ability to package simplistic, happy-go-lucky indie songwriting with a catchy Top 40 appeal. However, the transference of Matt & Kim’s carefree low-fi charm into a mainstream conscious, full-length release proved to be a challenging undertaking.

‘Sidewalks’ is an altogether pleasurable effort for the lovable Brooklyn duo, but ultimately falls short of its clear ambitions to bridge the indie-to-mainstream gap. While pushing hard to hone their pop-prowess Matt & Kim have unfortunately sidelined much of the do-it-yourself magnetism that defined their past successes. Their winning formula of endearingly slapdash drums, catchy synth hooks, and shout-back choruses remains, but it is all too often muddled with distracting studio overproduction.

In this regard, some fingers can be pointed in the direction of new-to-the-mix, super-producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Cut/Copy, Deerhunter). Though there are numerous moments where Allen’s influence confidently shines, as with the album’s first single ‘Cameras’ and longtime touring favorite ‘Silver Tiles’, his overall ability to infuse pop-sensibility and wall-of-sound roundedness into tracks misses the mark by masking the spastic, fly by the seat of your pants feel that Matt & Kim typically inspire.

‘Sidewalks’’ boundless enthusiasm and playful ability to create jovial hipstamatic daydreams makes this record an easy departure to swallow despite its flaws. Enjoy this record as potential first step toward future revamping, but do not expect it to receive nearly as much playlist rotation as ‘Grand’ or the duo’s eponymous.

Tags: Matt And Kim, Reviews, Album Reviews

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