Matt and Kim: “New Glow”

Matt-and-Kim-NewGlow-album-art

Matt and Kim

New Glow

[Fader Label, 2015]

by Jess Swarner

 

The very first few seconds of indie dance duo Matt and Kim’s fifth album New Glow give listeners a solid idea of what the next half hour will be like: energetic, poppy, and fun. Percussionist Kim Schifino and keyboard/vocalist Matt Johnson do what they do best by creating feel good, upbeat tracks that are bound to be remixed and blared.

First track “Hey Now” mixes the Roaring Twenties with a marching band to create a weirdly morbidly romantic song stating “If you died, I’d die right by your side.” It’s the perfect balance of fun and creativity that attracts so many fans to this duo.

“Stirred Up” slows down a bit but still drives forward with a strong beat and sing-along “woah-ohs.” It includes some voice effects, sounding like the annoying high pitched voice from Kanye’s “Mercy” decided to guest star on a more positive song.

“Can You Blame Me” is repetitive, but the flute just barely redeems it.

It’s easy to pass by “Hoodie On” almost immediately because of its arguably stupid lyrics (“Don’t dress up for much, just a hoodie on/I look like a king with a hoodie on”) but once you listen to it once there’s no going back. It has the same ridiculous appeal that “Thrift Shop” did—a catchy beat with words so meaningless you just have to laugh and share with your friends.

“Make a Mess” is a song about dancing naked to video game-inspired beats. It would take serious effort to dislike this one.

Johnson gets sentimental with “Killin’ Me,” a song more overtly lovey dovey than most of their songs. Hand claps make up most of the percussion which will make it fun for the audience to experience live.

“World is Ending” places Matt and Kim among the many dance music artists who oddly write songs about the apocalypse. This dance-style ballad includes all your typical Armageddon lyrics (“The world is ending, watch the sky fall on us”) and is easily the most boring song on the album. Johnson yelling “We were too turned up!” makes him sound like he’s trying to be a hip dad.

The album’s most well-known single, “Get It” feels like it would be Matt and Kim’s favorite song to play. Gang vocals, surprise marimba, and a small but savory inclusion of Schifino’s voice make it one of the most complicated and interesting on the album.

“Not Alone” starts off with super sweet and bouncy keyboard just like their 2009 hit “Daylight.” It gets ruined, though, by its vacant and cliché lyrics (“Through the pain and hate/ Here come brighter days”) and lack of distinguishing features.

“I See Ya” is an even more intense dive into a ballad. Johnson definitely cranks up the vocals on this one to sing a somewhat emotional song about missing someone, but it feels really, really strange to end such an upbeat album on this note.

Overall, Matt and Kim’s New Glow is a great listen if you love the duo’s past music and all you want is more of it. But, if you’re getting sick of the hollow, happy lyrics and add-weird-instruments-to-standard-indie-electronic equation, this might be the last Matt and Kim album you’ll be interested in—unless they make stronger attempts to experiment in the future.

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