Matt & Kim
Sidewalks - Fader
FILTER Grade: 83%
By Adam Conner-Simons on December 24, 2010
On their first two LPs, Matt & Kim got away with a lack of musical complexity thanks to sheer giddiness. Sidewalks finds the keyboard-and-drums duo trading in its rambunctious synth-punk for a more mid-tempo pop-anthem approach that aims for the heartstrings instead of the jugular. There are brassy hip-hop beats (“Cameras”) and four-to-the-floor techno numbers (“Block After Block”), but most of the tunes prove less frenzied, more thoughtful and content to breathe rather than pummel. (The band clearly benefited from the presence of Ben Allen, who produced Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion.) Matt’s synths bounce between bleepy, buzzy and orchestral, and his nasal vocals, though still occasionally a liability, lend poignancy to tracks like “Where You’re Coming From” and “Good for Great.” Other than a few missteps, Sidewalks displays a calmer, more self-assured band that seems to have graduated from a one-note “new-wave White Stripes” shtick.