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Matt & Kim – Lightning album review

Maybe I learned all I need to know from bottles and their broken glass, says Matt in “I Wonder.”
And while fun is on the agenda of Matt & Kim’s Lightning, it’s also an experiment in aurally diverse territory.

Singer Matt Johnson and drummer Kim Schifino formed the band in Brooklyn, NYC in 2004, back when they were Pratt Institute art students. Popularity came through extensive touring, with performances at festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo as well as a variety of international music festivals. Their first album Matt & Kim was released in 2006, followed by Grand in 2009, and Sidewalks in 2010. The duo garnered several awards such as the Gold Award for their song “Daylight,” and 3 MTV music awards including Breakthrough Video award for their daring “Lessons Learned” video clip. They’ve acquired a reputation for high-powered performances and their appreciation for intimate settings, highlighting their focus on energetic connection with the crowd.

Lightning—the duo’s fourth album—was released on October 2nd, 2012 under FADER label. The day before the album release, they performed the album’s first single—the dance-based “Let’s Go”—on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show. The album carries pop-punk influence and occasional nods to hip-hop set to their signature dose of high energy. Dancey tracks like “It’s Alright” and “Tonight” are odes to the good times, while “Much Too Late” channels anger and the album’s harshest lyrics. Hip hop influences can be heard in the less upbeat, head bobbing-appropriate “I Said” and the self-contemplative “I Wonder.”

Overall, Lightning feels like a party album with its fair share of ‘oooh’ refrains throughout—catchy but repetitive to say the least. Not that it’s all a walk in the park either, as bittersweet numbers like “Not That Bad,” “Much Too Late,” and “Ten Dollars I Found” reflect. While the lyrical content is often simple and repetitive, the impression is that Matt & Kim could probably get more abstract if they chose to. It’s almost as if Lightning seeks to strike a balance between the struggles of adulthood and the remnants of a youthful, carefree outlook.

For some, a fitting soundtrack to a house party but one whose experience might not be entirely memorable.

By Natacha Pavlov

Natacha Pavlov is an avid reader, writer, and traveler. Aside from eating ridiculous amounts of chocolate from her native Belgium, she can be found consuming large quantities of tea, falafel and lebneh in the lovely Bay Area.

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