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Matt & Kim – Grand

on January 26, 2009, 3:30pm
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In 2006, Brooklyn’s hopelessly adorable punk/dance duo, Matt & Kim, had repetition on their side when they released their debut album, which gathered an enormous cult following too quick for words. But now almost three years later, the loveable duo’s sophomore effort, Grand, is out, and sadly it’s a bit stale. When we fell in love with Matt & Kim it was because of their ability to create catchy n’ sweet tunes that got us on our feet, but it seems with Grand that maturity has finally caught up with them.

Essentially what Matt & Kim tried to create here was nothing more than Matt & Kim part deux, but somehow they left out some key ingredients. Paired with some “new” and overused themes, Grand makes their music only temporarily fun with its grown-up lyrics and truthful realizations of youth. Although the music is energetic, repetitive and dancy as expected, while also collecting elements from punk and shoegaze genres, it’s still missing the eccentric, kinky feel that Matt & Kim had. And even worse, the chemistry between the cutesy couple, (which is after all what really makes Matt & Kim so special), is missing!

The album starts and ends strong, beginning with “Daylight”, the album’s first single (which is already accompanied by a great video (see here)), and it’s obvious that the group is well aware of how awesome this track is. As you may or may not have heard, “Daylight” features a catchy piano hook, fun lyrics, and the incessant tap-tap of Kim on her drum set, while the “Daylight Outro Remix” on the contrary, is a bit slower with some orchestral bits thrown in here and there.

Much later, we find a few sparkling gems, such as the catchy “Good ‘ol Fashion Nightmare”, with its pep rally feel and heavy bass drum stomp, and the soothing yet quirky echoing synth lick of “Turn This Boat Around”. Another good one to remember is “Don’t Slow Down”, which sounds much more like the ‘ol Matt & Kim we remember with some crazy, weird synth action and thumping drums.

Aside from a few killer songs however, a larger portion of the album consists of slapstick tunes like “Cutdown” with its repetitive drum mash-up or “I Wanna”, which is essentially a faster version of “Daylight” (seriously, just try humming it). And almost every tune includes the infamous “hand clapping chant,” which should have been left behind with the Jock Jams of the ’90’s!

Without much variation and an insistence on hand clapping, Grand runs like one really long song with each new tune dripping into another track so similar it’s unnerving and impossibly hard to determine which track you’re on. However, what really hurts this record is not its commonplace sound, but rather its extremely short duration. Running just under 30 minutes, Grand becomes a rather trite addition to their repertoire.

It may be that Matt & Kim were attempting to make their material more radio-friendly and hopefully pull in a new audience with Grand, but ultimately it will only leave many long-time fans disappointed. Criticism aside, Grand really isn’t that bad of an album, it just could be infinitely better.

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