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Album review: Matt & Kim, "Sidewalks"

matt and kimMatt & Kim tone down the exuberance just a bit. (Windish Agency)

By David Malitz

Matt & Kim are part of a new breed of musicians that's much more interested in being your best friend than any sort of rock star. In concert, the impossibly jubilant synth-pop duo is like Sonny and Cher gorged on Pixy Stix and Red Bull. That means singalongs, hand claps and an everybody-get-happy, permanent-smile enthusiasm.

The energy level is high on the duo's new album, "Sidewalks," but there's also a sense of restraint that serves the songs well. After the sugar rush, the Brooklyn duo is capable of churning out some straightforward songs that have exactly as much staying power as a three-minute pop song should. "AM/FM Sound" spills the whole bag of tricks -- blurting keyboards, a few random whirrs in the background, innocent lyrics "I just sit here tonight and you will wait by my side" that lead into a wordless chorus of "Oh-ey-oh-ey-oh," all over a rudimentary bounce.

Instead of 10 carbon copies, the band throws in a few new sounds, notably some Southern hip-hop beats on "Block After Block" and "Cameras." It's leagues removed from the imposing wall of sound employed by the likes of Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame, and to say it adds edge would be taking it too far, but you can dance to it without simply pogoing in place. "Cameras" at first sounds like an Andy Samberg-style hip-hop parody but is even more sincere and stupid, which makes it the prototypical Matt & Kim song.

Recommended tracks: "Cameras," "AM/FM Sound"

By David Malitz  | November 2, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags:  Matt & Kim  
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