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Album review: Matt and Kim – Sidewalks

Apparently, smiley indie-pop couple ‘Matt and Kim’ met at Pratt Institute. I know Pratt Institute is an elite US art school that is really hard to get into and breeds all kind of superstar ‘creatives’ (which is not a noun), but still. They met at PRATT INSTITUTE. Ha, ha, ha. Oh god. And now they are a band. A relationship band.

Argh. Is this what being in a couple is supposed to be like? Are couples supposed to make relentlessly cheerful music together? Is that where I have been going wrong? The relationships I have been involved in have never resulted in the production of any kind of music, and especially not staggeringly chirpy, E-number-fuelled power pop like this.

The fixed grins these tunes must be sung through make me very suspicious. I wonder if ‘Matt and Kim’ definitely do love each other. Are they going to stay together forever and work through their arguments and get married and raise a small family and go to parents’ evenings and hug in the hallway, alone but together, the day their children leave home for college, knowing that everything will be okay in their newly silent house; will they grow closer as the infinite grind of their Autumn years sets in and youthful passion yields to the slow-burning, glowing cinders of the love that only elderly couples know? I’m not sure. Is the psychotically upbeat, hand-holdy synth-pop of upcoming single Cameras hiding something? Papering over the cracks, perhaps? Do you go to a relationship counsellor, Matt and Kim? You cannot be this happy without a catch, can you?

You can? Damn you. Okay, okay. I am just a jealous, cadaverous, lonely husk of a person. Sidewalks isn’t a bad album at all. Northeast is a crusty bearded cousin of Beyonce’s Halo (that is a compliment). Block After Block has a naggingly clever little synth line that references (as does much of the album) modern ‘in da club’ hip hop but juxtaposes it with a catchy, infectious little melody. Ice Melts will be a shouty bouncy anthem for the happy, Panda Pops-powered young people that go to ‘Matt and Kim’ gigs, before they go on a road trip to a lake the next day in an exquisitely battered convertible in order to take hipstamatic pictures of themselves swimming naked and put them on facebook, making everyone else hate them.

I wish you luck, ‘Matt and Kim’. You are my favourite relationship band since the White Stripes. And, yes, your shouty optimism is a pleasant antidote to the melodramatic dourness of much of the plagiaristic post-punk parody swilling around at the moment. But I will not come to your annoying, quirky wedding, to which I demand you invite me (even though I will not RSVP). And when you put the video of it on youtube, I hope it fails to go viral, even though it obviously will do so ten million times over.

At least there isn’t another couple in your band, making the risk of you doing a Fleetwood Mac almost, but not quite, zero.

-Mark Edwards

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