Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Matt And Kim: Sidewalks

Unlikely Billboard chart-crackers and all-around adorable ragamuffins Matt And Kim appeal to the parts of the brain that crave crash-and-burn empty calories, Saturday-morning cartoons, and the idea of stomping as legitimate percussion, so of course the indie-pop hootenanny of 2009’s Grand was recorded in Matt Johnson’s childhood bedroom. Sidewalks is a step toward maturity—or at least getting your own place—and was overseen by Animal Collective and Deerhunter producer Ben Allen, but ditching that DIY approach has also meant allowing the duo’s bratty punk energy to flag. The album is awash in synths, Kim’s drums are allowed to gather dust, and the indie-pop sounds more akin to, well, regular pop. As with previous efforts, Sidewalks doesn’t mind starting with dessert, even if that means appetites will be spoiled for the lesser delights that follow. “Block After Block” is a community-spirit-building rave-up complete with “yeah”s and a hail-Mary key-change, and “Cameras” rides a goofily infectious hook of belching tubas into a welter of synthesized instrumentation. Those are the high points, though, and the rest of the album pinballs off the spiffy new production elements without ever racking up high scores, as track after track ends on feel-good shout-alongs that never really inspire shouting along.

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