This is an album that can be perceived in two very different directions. You can look at it in reference to all the other music that comes your way – the complex, indie, intricate guitar filled albums that blow you away. Or you can just take this album in for what it is: a man with a keyboard and a lady on the drums, turning out simple and catchy tunes. I chose the latter of those two options.
Sidewalks starts out with “Block After Block, “ classic Matt & Kim: electronic synthesizer patterns and the yelp of Matt carrying over the hyper beat provided by Kim. By the end of the song, by the end of my first listen I was singing along with him on the “Block after Block” line of the chorus; it’s just that catchy.
I tried to dislike this album, really, I did. But halfway though “AM/FM,” the second song, those repeated “oh ay oh ay oh oh ay ay oh-a-oh’s” had me hooked and there was no turning back. In the first six songs Matt & Kim don’t pause for a breather, instead they turn out song after blistering fast song. Each and every one of these first six jams is quick and ever so danceable. Your toes should be tapping and your head nodding like crazy.
If Matt & Kim haven’t won you over before the first four songs, just wait until “Where You’re Coming From.” This is the epitome of why this album is so enjoyable. It starts out as a simple beat and builds over the course of the song, progressively adding more and more elements to the song, whether it is the buzz of synth, or the electronic beeps and boops. Just when you think they are going to push it too far, Matt & Kim throw it all together and make you feel like the guitar isn’t a necessary instrument for musical greatness. The climax of the song is one of pure bliss; cymbals crashing, voices echoing, lyrics falling into their place perfectly, and the electronic noises blending together with the actual beat.
As I mentioned before, the first six songs are a nonstop party, but this doesn’t mean the last four tracks are boring, on the contrary, Matt & Kim finish ever so strongly. They slow it down on “Northeast,” showing a bit a depth to their music from an emotional stand point because the imagery in the lyrics show true feeling as opposed to simple beats. They then bring back their rambunctious energy on “Silver Tiles and culminate everything together with “Ice Melts,” leaving the listener in the same place where Matt & Kim started, except perhaps a little out of breath.
So before you turn your nose up at this work because it is currently in the number three spot of top albums on iTunes, give it a listen with an open mind. Yeah, it isn’t the equivalent of work from artists like The National, but I believe that you’ll find an entertaining and danceable bunch of songs in Sidewalks, that are sure to make your party mix for the rest of the year.