Indie pop favorite Matt and Kim is back on the scene with the same rowdy energy that catapulted it into indie heavyweight status back in 2006. The Brooklyn duo’s new album, Lightning, released Tuesday, offers a similar set of the propulsive synth and jovially defiant chants it is already so renowned for.
The first single off Lightning, “Let’s Go,” is filled with “ooohs” and Matt Johnson’s repetitive chants, “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” He is “shouting out of my windows/rolled down/‘cause I don’t care anymore.”
Though not quite the voice of a generation, Johnson knows how to rally the fist-pumping troops into buoyant synth-pop rebellion. With such a continuous energy present in its sound, consider it surprising the band didn’t have a song like ”Let’s Go” before this album.
From the street art-esque Brooklyn imagery of the album cover to the rah-rah songs powered by fun times and angst, Matt and Kim’s newest album doesn’t signify much change for the duo. Johnson’s nasally voice still sings fun, crowd-pumping melodies against crude synthesizers. And Schifino’s raucous drum accompaniments stuff enough beats in each track to make your head explode.
“Now” delivers such an in-your-face tempo you can’t help but dance, headbang or fist-pump — whichever might be your forte. Schifino shines on this track as her constant barrage of drums carries the song, colliding perfectly with Johnson’s chants of “Now!” Again, the troops rally in numbers.
“It’s Alright” continues the upbeat vibes, but also builds upon the vigor of the preceding song. The introductory synths, reminiscent of what you would here in a dance track, immediately transcend into a happy-go-lucky tune of “alright, it’s alright, it’s alright / you’ll see ooooh.” Here, everything is alright: a great high-energy song and easily one of the more outstanding tracks on the album.
Another noteworthy track, “Tonight,” holds the potential to be the anthem to your semester. Of course the content is, as you might have guessed, about “turning it up tonight.” Champagne is involved. As is something about New York. It’s a friendly tune to be expected at your next party, where sing-alongs might even commence.
But it’s not all fun and games for the indie pop duo.
Johnson adds an angsty attitude toward the album, a strange choice given the upbeat musings of Matt and Kim. As he wails out “You think I’m some little phony / thing is you don’t f-cking know me” over Schifino’s punk-inspired drum beat in “Much Too Late,” the message becomes most clear: the twosome can deliver a big ol’ middle finger to the world in only the cutest way possible, an achievement unique to Matt and Kim.
But Lightning, while remaining in the band’s poppy spirit, fails to propel Matt and Kim away from their previous albums. Schifino’s contributions are stronger here, having grown more comfortable with contributing backing vocals, but many of these songs sound as though they’ve been heard elsewhere, perhaps even on previous releases from the band itself. Lightning falls back too much on the shouty singing, simplistic lyrics, rudimentary synths and melodic crooning that have already became quintessential characteristics of the band.
For longtime fans of the twosome, this album will make a great addition to the party playlist. And without a doubt, experiencing these songs live will be too fun for words. But Lightning simply holds little potential to attract new fans.