Review: Matt and Kim “New Glow”
In the winter of 2009, Matt and Kim recorded their famous music video for “Lessons Learned,” where the duo strip down to their birthday suits and walk down a sidewalk in Times Square. Children stare. Police tackle them. They run away. Video over.
Six years and three albums later, the duo is still breaking rules (but not really any laws this time).
New Glow, released on April 7, 2015 is a bouncy record filled with rambunctious trombone solos, video-game beep melodies and burp-like sound effects. The entire thing is basically a party.
It’s self-aware of all that, though. All of “Hoodie On” is about, guess what? Hoodies. During “World is Ending,” Matt Johnson sings, “we were too turned up, we were too turned up” following otherwise-glum lyrics. And, notably, on “Make a Mess,” Johnson sings, “let’s make a mess because we’ve been clean for way too long.”
Clean? With Matt and Kim’s music, it’s not the most accurate term to use. They’re known for their DIY style made famous by single “Daylight,” and their fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Earlier this year, controversy bubbled when the duo released “Get It” as a teaser to the new album. And, gosh—the song wasn’t like old Matt and Kim. What if the two sold out?
They may have changed but, no, they didn’t sell out. New Glow might be a little more processed and include a lot more synth than past albums. However, it’s just as DIY as any of their other work.
This is especially so for “Not Alone,” which features a lollipop of a piano riff and Johnson singing reassuring lyrics like “together we’re strong/and sing to this song.” Then there’s the jungle-like “Can You Blame Me,” filled with unique instrumentation including a shaker and flutes.
Really, there aren’t that many individually special moments on the album. Everything is happy, shiny and easy to dance to.
…With one exception. “I See Ya,” the final track on the album, is a black sheep. The song is slow. It’s sad. It’s sweet.
But it’s so oddly placed.
On an album that devotes nine out of 10 songs to synth-heavy party beats, why would the duo wrap up with something so depressing? It’s not a funeral march or anything, but by New Glow’s standards, anything less than sunshine doesn’t fit.
For the first time on the album, Kim Schifino’s energetic, fast-paced drumming is absent. And when “I See Ya” ends with reiterations of Johnson’s lonely “I miss you,” all the hype and energy built throughout the rest of the album evaporates into a weird melancholy.
It doesn’t feel right but hey, Matt and Kim have broken the rules before. They can do it again.
On May 19, Matt and Kim will stop by Cleveland’s House of Blues on their latest tour.