"Sidewalks" by Matt and Kim

Matt and Kim
Sidewalks

FADER LABEL
2010

Review

Very danceable stuff that is like Bloc Party if you sucked out all the irony and self-importance. That stuff can work too, but it's hard to sustain. In general, it's easier to make "happy" listenable than "this is important". In short, fans of the nuevo-new-wave or even the OG new-wave will eat this up. I know I did.

One might think that this stuff would be perfect for the radio. Dear mainstream, why don't you go for stuff like this anymore? This is what "pop" should sound like except that "pop" is a dirty word. I would much rather listen to this over and over again then whatever beat-jacked interpolation dumbed down club hit The Black Eyed Peas are performing (don't get me started on that half-time show either...the best parts were when the peas were watching other people perform...I used to like those cats too. Pre-Fergie, but BEP hate is easy to come by on the internet so I'll leave it to the full-time haters to complete my thoughts on that matter...ahem). Matt and Kim don't make me think of nuevo-new-wave as much as they do just plain old happy 1980's pop-rock (aka "POHPR" in the 80's).

Matt Johnson's singing voice reminds be of Duran Duran's Simon LeBon. It's not just the voice but it's also the lyrics. In terms of this formula (the "emulate Duran Duran" and - heck - that's as fine a plan as any) "Red Paint" and "Wires" get it perfectly right. Of "Red Paint", I could have been swayed by the electronic elements that make your inner Kraftwerk smile. This is catchy and lots of fun. I would say this is brother-in-law approved. My brother-in-law is the biggest new-wave fanatic in the world. To this day, it's the only Rock music he'll listen to on most occasions so when he's drunk and the crowd skews a bit mid-thirties, this is the sound that comes out of the wire that connects his iPod to the speakers. One of these days I'm going to sneak in some Matt and Kim, The Drums, and Maximum Balloon and see if he notices. Depending on the tequila brand flowing, probably not.

"Good For Great" sounds A LOT like that Shawty Like A Melody song that is a party bus staple. But with it's slightly electronic-pop-rock and accessible melody it would be at home on the radio between a Boy George song and a Cyndi Lauper song.

In terms of the "not so greats" on the album, "Where You're Coming From" is decent enough Boy George, but it's missing a bit more pop-edge to it. I can see people disagreeing with me on this one though. For example, it could be played to death on the radio and then people would love it. Then those people would look at me and say, "A freaking 3? That song's a HIT"...but yeah, well...that's how it works sometimes. Also, "Northwest" and "Wires" are sort of downers and I like Matt and Kim's happy more than their sad.

4.100 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Block After Block (02:53) 5
2. AM/FM Sound (03:12) 4
3. Cameras (03:30) 4
4. Red Paint (03:04) 5
5. Where You're Coming From (04:07) 3
6. Good for Great (03:48) 5
7. Northeast (02:49) 3
8. Wires (03:56) 4
9. Silver Tiles (03:34) 5
10. Ice Melts (03:45) 3