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Album Review – Matt and Kim: New Glow

The album cover for New Glow by Matt and Kim

Don’t call indie dance pop duo Matt and Kim weekend warriors. For these two, partying is a way of life, a vocation, a religion. Theirs is a world where everyone lives in the cool part of Brooklyn, where hangovers can be cured at the drop of a bass, where you stay out all night and wake up on the right side of the bed at 2 pm gunning to do it all again. The drinks are free, the sex is amazing, the neighbors never complain about the noise, nobody grows old or boring, and your Harlem Shake video racks up 11 million views on YouTube.

All that is exactly why those of us who live in the real world – you know, where taxes and crap days and breakups and stretch marks happen – like them so much. Matt and Kim are the emperor and empress of escapist pop; their high decibel utopia keeps us reality dwellers coming back again and again.

So whether you are returning to the duo or have only just been introduced, approach New Glow with the understanding that not all music necessarily needs to say something. Volume up, compulsive habit to analyze every lyric down. (No excuses. I was an English major so if I can manage it, you can too.) Less thinking, more jamming.

And really, you can’t help but jam to the jubilant “Can You Blame Me”, an ode to New York City slash reminder to carpe diem no matter what. Part-piano, part-synth standout “World Is Ending” is as close to bummed as the pair ever venture. And an irresistible 8-bit synth riff fuels the exuberant “Make A Mess”. If you have a playlist of songs to streak to (No judgment!), “Make A Mess” deserves prime placement.

Unfortunately the duo’s commitment to keep the party going at all costs results in a few meaningless catchphrases. “Get it all stirred up” gets repeated ad infinitum on the Skrillex-ish “Stirred Up”, an anthem best suited for high school kids drinking in their basement. It would be easier to stomach if anyone here was underage and still thought Skittles vodka was #COOL, but we’re all adults here. Let’s rage like it. “Get It” shares the blame; “We don’t wanna go home!” scans a little too suited for an under-18 club.

At times, New Glow feels too familiar. Jaunty piano and an unsinkable outlook make “Not Alone” a dead ringer for “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare” from their sophomore album Grand. They got it right the first time, as “Not Alone” sounds like a Grand reject by comparison. “Hey Now” is what a mashup of 2012’s “Now” and their 2009 hit “Daylight” would sound like after one too many shots of tequila. While still plenty danceable, the track comes across as otherwise uninspired.

Every song on New Glow is unmistakably Matt and Kim. Their love of handclaps, kickdrums and naming songs after young urbanite living essentials (see: “Cameras” from third album Sidewalks and “Hoodie On” from this outing) has yet to dim. You don’t have to think too hard, you just have to headbang along.

Be honest. What do you really have to lose by getting out of your mind? These two throw one hell of a party. Turn up, tune out, drop the bass. It’s good for you.

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Elle is a writer and art student based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter: @ellecoxon

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