Matt & Kim
A day before Sidewalks was officially released, Matt & Kim hosted/hijacked a radio show on Sirius XMU where they confessed, amid other sordid things, that this most recent effort was inspired by the more radio-friendly tracks from their last release, Grand (“Daylight” and “Good Old Fashioned Nightmare,” in particular). And it shows. Recruiting Ben Allen (Diddy, Gnarls Barkley) as their new producer, the group makes a sincere effort to remove some of its punk stylings in favor of a more danceable groove—which seems to be a common progression, analogous to that of other romantically entwined indie duos (see: Mates of State circa 2000 vs. MOS circa 2008). Yet there is still that signature, relentlessly infectious energy on standout tracks like “Red Paint,” where 8-bit synth gives way to a dynamic, driving chorus with instructions appropriately hollered, “Heads in the paint/ Let’s make some stains.” And there are still remnants of the duo’s gritty punk aesthetic on tracks like “Wires,” where they’ve added a subwoofer to the mix for that extra oomph (listen closely for the rattling license plate).