Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: Matt & Kim - Grand: "A Smile for Your Ears"

The dynamic Brooklyn duo, Matt & Kim, have once again unleashed their unstoppable sound. Their sophomore album, Grand, was released on January 20, 2009, bringing with it a rawer, and a more rambunctious air. Full of the usual strong, driving rhythms and energetic vocals, the album is infused with a new acoustic feel of claps, snaps, and stomps. Compared to the polished sound of their previous CD, Matt & Kim (2006), the group has decided to shy away from studio recording. As Matt describes, the studio environment “wasn’t exactly the breeding ground of creativity.” Instead, the two settled down in Matt’s parent’s home in Vermont and recorded Grand in his childhood bedroom. The result was a record that shines brightly, dawning a fresh, intoxicating, summer soundtrack.

“Daylight” bursts Grand alight with true Matt & Kim flavor of stimulating syncopation. Their relentless energy is also captured in the track’s music video, which has been successfully circulated on MTVu. Watching the duo crammed into a refrigerator, a cab, and other New York City locales is priceless. The smiles across their faces never fade, and neither does their playing.

“Cutdown,” “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare,” and “Lessons Learned” introduce deeper, resonating synth tones. Paired together with a heavier emphasis on the snare and cymbals, the combination yields involuntary head bobbing. “Lessons Learned” offers a somewhat smoother experience, yet still leaves your heart racing. Matt’s expressive lyrics touch upon a place where we’ve all been: “I stayed up all night, slept in all day. This is my sound, thinking ‘bout tomorrow won’t change how I feel today.”

Bringing witty lines and more of an original Matt & Kim sound, “I Wanna” pounds confidently with wants and needs. Besides wanting “to bring back the bison,” this track shows off the group’s versatility in alternating between different meters. With a Morse code like opening, “Don’t Slow Down” gives off a more laidback sound to back up the motivating motto.

“Turn This Boat Around,” brings something totally different to the table: a ballad. Yet the rainy, cloudy lullaby still stays true to strong down beats resonating in the background. “Cinders,” a purely instrumental whirlwind quickly cuts in. When you thought Matt & Kim couldn’t possibly go any faster, they do.

“Daylight Outro” and “I’ll Take Us Home,” wrap up the album, reaffirming Grand’s true homage to Brooklyn. Like “a pair of old boxing gloves,” the duo returns, “just so [they] could finally breath.” With a few bitter, yet relieved notes, the track moves you to close your eyes and feel warm at home sweet home.

The energy emanating from this ecstatic match up will make your heart skip beats. Matt & Kim’s true soul shines within Grand, leaving Brooklyn and Grand street as the proud parents. Their unyielding grins and humbleness will definitely make you SOL (smile out loud). In the end, you’ll want nothing but to share a dumpster with these two.

-Tetyana Pecherska
DJ on "A Day in the Life," Sundays @6-8am

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