Matt and Kim, a Brooklyn-based indie-pop duo, released their latest album, New Glow, on April 7. In their fifth LP, the pair experiments with additional EDM and hip-hop elements that add to their signature high-energy dance music, but the resulting blend feels like less than the sum of its ingredients.
On New Glow, Matt and Kim scrub the production squeaky-clean, creating a synthetic feel to the songs. There’s little variation between tracks, with one quirky dance beat drifting right into the next. The sugar rush of Matt and Kim’s signature dance music quickly fizzles out because of the repetition.
Matt and Kim attempt to shake up their usual keyboard and lo-fi drum combo, adding horns to the opening number, “Hey Now,” and swapping out the traditional piano sound for funky synths on some tracks, such as “Killin’ Me.”
Underneath the new production elements, though, the music remains defined by the simple melodies and cutesy delivery that made the band successful.
New Glow offers the occasional shot of energetic dance music. The bumping, grinding beat of “Hoodie On” stands out among the album’s more generic tracks. Enthusiastic songs, such as “Make a Mess” and “Stirred Up,” channel Matt and Kim at their lively, irreverent best, but these songs are the exception. Much of New Glow sounds as if it were written on autopilot.
Matt and Kim’s music has always been proudly immature. They’re more interested in putting out upbeat music than introspection. Their resistance to pretension can be refreshing in a music scene filled indie groups bent on becoming this generation’s Morrissey. But New Glow lacks Matt and Kim’s original exuberant bounce and joy.
The lyrics have never been the point of Matt and Kim’s music, but New Glow’s rhymes feel particularly phoned-in. Lines such as “live every day like it’s your first” and “we don’t want to go home” fill verses that sound as if they were designed to be pasted over inspirational stock photos.
The duo attempts to switch up the pace with the album’s closing track, “I See Ya.” They address their personal relationships with friends and family in the uncharacteristically slow, emotional song. But, following the previous nine tracks, “I See Ya” sounds like an afterthought rather than a new direction for the band.
Matt and Kim tend to focus on live performances and fill their shows with improvisation and raunchy stage antics. They spent much of the nearly three-year gap between their last album, Lightning, and New Glow on tour. Matt and Kim’s upcoming show next Thursday at Stubb’s BBQ will likely be memorable.
Despite New Glow’s generic sound and repetitive tracks, the cheerful lyrics and strong beats of the album will be sure to please a crowd. Matt and Kim’s commitment to putting out energetic, danceable music is admirable. But as a stand-alone listening experience, New Glow lacks depth.
Artist: Matt and Kim
What: Matt and Kim concert
When: April 23
Where: Stubb’s BBQ