When keyboardist Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino's second album, Grand, hit the shelves in 2009, fans of Indie Rock took note. The leap in production and songwriting was drastic while the childlike fun of the first record was still present in all of its glory. Listen to their first album's lead single "Yea Yeah" and immediately follow that with Grand's biggest hit "Daylight." The overall feel of both tracks is nearly identical, but the intricacies in the background of "Daylight" accompanied by a much crisper recording, thanks to a move to Fader Label, turned Matt & Kim into a seemingly overnight success.
Now on their third record, Matt & Kim have once again raised their own bar, adding additional instrumentation and moving in a slightly more experimental direction. Opening with "Block After Block," a sampled and repeated "yeah!" along with hand claps give potential live audiences plenty to look forward to. If you do a Google image search for Matt & Kim, you'll be hard pressed to find a photo without both of them grinning ear to ear. This is the same reaction they look for from their listeners with every song.
Like most bands with a similar upbeat style, Matt & Kim do an excellent job balancing their newest record with both new and familiar aspects to keep fans begging for more. "Block After Block," "AM/FM Sound," and the lead single, "Cameras," succeed in introducing their new stylistic tendencies while pulling fans along for the ride. Further along, higher pitched synths are introduced on "Red Paint" and a slower tune complete with string pizzicato samples, "Where You're Coming From," offers the perfect halfway point.
Although Sidewalks sees the addition of new instruments and mixing techniques, it all falls together for one track, "Good for Great," which serves as the climax of the record. This is truly the new Matt & Kim. Where many bands try to branch off and explore their musical potential to extremes with every record, Matt & Kim take just enough chances to keep things fresh while doing nothing to disappoint their current fans. Sidewalks is a delight from beginning to end so if you're in the mood for some upbeat fun, give this CD a spin.
Similar Artists: Phoenix, Metric
Track Suggestion: "Good for Great"