Can I shoot straight with you? I have to be in a particular sort of mood to enjoy Matt & Kim. Specifically, I have to be in the mood for jump-up-and-down, pump-your-fist, take-another-swig-of-beer party mindlessness. Or just really, really happy. Anything else, and their music sounds to me like indie-rock’s attempt at bubble-gum pop and hip-hop, and it just annoys the heck out of me.
Suffice it to say that Matt & Kim’s latest release Lightning has the exact same effect on me as their previous records. If I’m in the mood for it, I love it—if not, then not so much. Don’t interpret that to mean this is a bad album—I’ve heard bands that annoy me all the time—I just mean to say it’s a record for a specific frame of mind. If you’re in a celebratory sort of mood, you’re going to love it.
For that matter, Lightning plays sort of like a live show, which makes it a good selection for a party. The first cut and lead single “Let’s Go” is definitely the album’s strongest tune, daring you not to chant and bounce to the beat. The second tune “Now”, while lyrically challenged, is equally chant-worthy; it’s just that you’re going to change the chant from “Let’s Go” and “Hey!” to “Now!” After that, to be honest, the songs just sort of run together; but if you’re in the party frame of mind, by this time you’ve probably consumed enough alcohol that it doesn’t matter so much. Whatever song comes next, you’re going to dance and sing along and have a good time.
Can you tell I was not in the mood when I wrote this? I really am trying to be fair…
Style-wise, perhaps the one thing that differentiates this record from Matt & Kim’s other stuff is that they have ventured slightly away from the hip-hop groove, and steered more toward pop/punk. You can really hear it in songs like “Overexposed” and “Much Too Late,” particularly in Kim’s driving drumbeats. For those tunes, you’re likely to trade the hip-hop bounce for a mosh pit.
Overall, Lightning isn’t a groundbreaker for Matt & Kim, but at the same time, this duo is more about having a good time than breaking ground, anyhow. They have a distinct voice as a band, and they’ve managed to develop a solid fan base (and believe it or not, I am a fan, howbeit a part-time fan). The fact is, this record will make their fan base happy.
Or happier. Whatever.