Matt And Kim have never shown much interest in expanding beyond the shamelessly simple, high-energy party-playlist anthems that they’ve faithfully churned out for nearly a decade now—their sole, unwavering goal has been to pump up the crowd, not prove anything to the critics. Through the years, however, each batch of two- and three-note beats and choruses have been progressively harder to get excited about; despite the infectious jock-jam opener “Let’s Go,” 2012’s Lightning should have sounded alarm bells with its lack of engaging hooks. With New Glow, the duo’s well of shallow melodies has finally dried up.
Stylistically, the record strikes a balance between the lacquer-slick, club-catering bent of 2010’s Sidewalks and the stripped-down indie-dance rhythms fans will be well familiar with. That blend is evident on the album’s best cut, “Get It,” a loose, uneven graft of trip-hop and electro-rock that finally comes together in a catchy outro groove. If the pair was looking to distill their previous material into one cohesive sound (not exactly that monumental of a feat), they’ve fused the right parts together. Ultimately, however, there’s just not enough substance here for it to really matter.
The record, clocking in at less than 28 minutes, feels like it was written in 10. Nobody would ever confuse Matt And Kim’s straightforward riffs with Beethoven, but they’ve been diminished to near-amateur quality, as if composed by a bored Best Buy customer wandering through the keyboards aisle. Other tracks seem mindlessly tossed off: “Hoodie On,” for example (yes, it is actually an ode to the sweatshirt style), starts with a repetitive, monotone cadence of vocals that is slowly filled in with throbbing effects and aimless, disjointed synth noodling. Enthusiasm can make up for a lot of shortcomings in this kind of by-the-numbers mod-pop—and the duo is never wanting for spirited execution—but, on New Glow, they’ve either finally dumbed things down too much, or simply reached the end of where this rudimentary songwriting can take them.