Lesson two of five in nostalgia…
A refreshingly upbeat offering...
Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino brought an excitable bag of tricks to the twee-core party back in 2006, in the shape of their self-titled debut album. Quite what seemed so appealing was hard to pinpoint. Was it their lo-fi charm, or perhaps their indie-pop sensibilities? Maybe even it was the fact that you just wanted to wrap the duo up in a blanket and protect them from the world? Whatever: the album was a success within its field, and elevated its makers to a new level of recognition.
The follow-up to said debut is a sugar-coated, candy-floss-whipped slice of sunshine pop. There is only so much you can do with a keyboard and drums, but the Brooklyn duo make the most of tone and melody to flesh their skeletal structures well. The haunting keyboard and wistful vocals on ‘Turn This Boat Around’ combine to conjure a sombre tale that sees the pair wanting to leave it all behind; drummer Schifino’s harmonising here is a far cry from the rampaging erratic pop of ‘Cinders’, which is a thundering rush of dancing synths, hyperactive snare and bass drum glued together with a dollop of Angel Delight – imagine a dozen spinning tops colliding after a perky “One, two, three, four!” count in. But not everything here is so saccharine: revealing a darker side on ‘I’ll Take Us Home’, they sing: “here we stand, with a wolf like shadow”.
At under 27 minutes, ‘Grand’ is an album to soundtrack your summer with minimum fuss, and with opening track - and lead single - ‘Daylight’ they’ve taken out a toy hammer and hit pop perfection squarely on its squeaky head. From an Afrobeat opening it swoons around, ducking under the cheeky arm of melody and tap dancing along the drum kit like MGMT’s fidgety little cousin. It might all feel very twee, but in a time where music is beginning to take itself very seriously again, a little light relief is A Good Thing.
Peppered with elements of punk its twists and turns, which take it through a world of its own, ‘Grand’ is perhaps just what we need to brighten the dour reality of the everyday, a gritty realism so many other acts seek to capture on record. Matt & Kim’s eschewing of this tradition is, quite simply, hugely refreshing.
Matt & Kim