Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim are at it again with their infectious indie pop punk melodies for their sophomore album Grand. Matt Johnson (keyboard, vocals) and Kim Schifino (drums, vocals) met in 2004 while attending Pratt Institute in New York.
Matt & Kim spent all of nine days recording their self-titled debut in 2006. For this go-round the pair worked on it intermittently for nine months, even spending time at the isolated Vermont home of Matt’s parents. Kim described the place as “being near nothing and surrounded by three cow pastures” (press release).
Being departed from civilization must have helped because the two couldn’t have been happier in Grand. Matt described the experience as bittersweet because that “while our album is different from our things in the past, it’s what I would have always done if we had the time and means to do it, which we did this time around [but] I would never record our whole album ourselves again.”
The band’s sound hits you with an initial jolt of juvenile brashness that quickly subsides once you realize the attitude and mood are ones of youthful excitement rather than the more despondent rebelliousness normally associated with similar raw, almost nasal vocals of Mr. Matt.
The opening “Daylight” is the ultimate head bopper track, keeping the body moving with its subtle keyboard melody underneath an addicting rigid lyrical structure. The pseudo-hyper “Cutdown” follows, concluding and flowing into the almost minimalist (by M&K standards) “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare.” The latter track is eerily danceable with nothing more than chanting and clapping to move the beats forward.
Matt & Kim manage to diversify the sound of Grand compared to Matt & Kim while maintaining its manic dance and punk stylings within a relatively brisk sub-thirty-minute runtime. The lyrics are still basic and somewhat incoherent, but that’s what makes the band so much fun. How many other bands out there could make a song fruitful from mostly a singular repeating lyric “don’t slow down?” I’ll let you guess what the song’s title is.
The New York natives prove that they can take their music up a notch without sacrificing their unique approach toward musical storytelling. They’ll even astound you with a touching ballad (“Turn This Boat Around”) and even some poetic depth (“I’ll Take You Home”) before the introspective remixed “Daylight Outro” perfectly wraps up the past half-hour of music.