Music Review: Sidewalks by Matt and Kim

Story by Eric Christenson

Dear Matt and Kim,
Back in 2009, I considered myself an adult.  In my quest to be an adult, I decided to change the music I listened to a little bit.  I threw out all of the novelty songs like “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book soundtrack, the Boy Meets World theme song, a lot of the Blink-182 catalogue and a lot of Jack Johnson.
I’ve since put the Jungle Book song back in my library, because it’s perfect, but the point is, your album, Grand helped me through that time by easily bridging the gap between listening to bad music and listening to good music.
It was the perfect blend of punchy drums, fat synths and a gritty apathy for intonation.  The songs were hard-hitting, catchy as all get out.  In short, it was just what I needed.
But unfortunately, Matt and Kim, with your new album, Sidewalks, I am extremely disappointed.
Everything that I found admirable and attractive in Grand (and even your self-titled first album) has been thrown out the window and replaced by a cheap electronic blip.
Kim, your once booming, reckless drums have been replaced with electronic claps and Garage band demo- crashes.  The beats aren’t punchy and speedy so much as processed and perfect.  The sloppiness of them was charming and fun, but now with so much studio manipulation, there’s nothing left but a broken shell.
And Matt, your synths were always so understated and minimalistic.  There was little needed other than a bass line that would knock you down (if you were next to the right speakers) and a piano or strings line that wasn’t overbearing.  Now it seems like you tried to include every basic tone on a music-class synthesizer in the new album.
On Sidewalks’ closer, “Ice Melts,” the horn sounds are almost unbearable, and on the second track “AM/FM Sound,” my least favorite on the album, the strings and cheesy synth rhythms hint at bad Japanese techno rather than respectable indie pop.
Also, Matt, on previous albums, your vocals were once strained and characteristic.  The lack of polish evoked passion and intensity, but now they’re almost auto-tuned.  Not T-Pain auto-tuned, but rather Glee auto-tuned.  They’re too perfect and frankly, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t suit you well.
I get the appeal of enlisting Animal Collective and Deerhunter producer Ben Allen to give your new album a sense of maturity, but it definitely takes away rather than adds.  The studio manipulation was the worst part of the album, and it actually made it sound less mature and more teen-pop-y than anything you’ve ever done.
Grand was a do-it-yourself effort recorded in Matt’s childhood bedroom, for goodness sakes!  That definitely suits your style better.  If that good of an album can be recorded in a bedroom, and a Sidewalks quality album is done in the studio, I think it’s obvious the way it should be done in the future.  The homemade quality allows the punk aesthetic to shine.
So please, Matt and Kim.  If you care at all about me or anyone else that was harshly disappointed with the new album, do us all a favor and record your next album on your own and avoid the Christmas rap appeal.
Love always,