Matt and Kim
Contrary to what you will find here by and large, I do in fact like happy, positive music. I have found however, that there just isn’t a whole lot of it out there and often when people try to bring the positive out look to the whole music scene it just becomes a bunch of kitschy nonsense. We live in a world where expressing happiness and joy isn’t part of the artistic lexicon. We find it sometimes in the funny pages, and occasionally on our situation comedies. But rarely do we find it in music. Not in any sincere way and usually not in a way that is cohesive and artistic.
I think the best leader for this album could be the lyrics from “Lessons Learned” where Matt Johnson sings “broken legs can be replaced” over the sweet da da da’s of the lovely Kim Schifino in her vocal debut. Even when shit is fucked, there is always the future where things will get better. This is what Matt and Kim has been about for me. The energy to see that no matter how fucked my shit is at the moment, it’s only an uphill battle to better times.
Any one who has seen this duo live can attest to the over abundant positive vibes they emit without shame or self consciousness. They are, by there own admission, generally upbeat people. When you operate in the jaded, critical world of independent music amongst the swarm of ironic hipsters, angry punkers and sarcastic, fat white kid bloggers and you can survive in total opposition to that, and be from New York City, and play Casio keyboards without any hint of sardonicism then you deserve the applause. Yes, I am following in a stream of hundreds of critics and bloggers by pointing it out. But positivity is an anomaly. It deserves it’s due here, and it is vital to the music.
So what does Grand do that’s so good? Frankly the album has shown a band that has grown tremendously. Their self titled debut was a fast frenzy of seemingly similar songs that was a fun listen, but lacked greatly in an lush overtures or variant sonic exploration. It’s fun and fist pumping, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of song. Grand does not suffer from this problem at all. It varies in tempo, it varies in tone and temperature, it has lush and deep bass and twinkling trebles. Even the drum beats are varied more, not just chock full of bash and pop. The band benefited greatly from doing it themselves, controlling the recording process and environment. Matt and Kim took the time to explore the possibilities and at the end of the journey came out with a really solid album.
I must say though, that the album feels somewhat tempered. The reflection on sounds is a real treat, but aside from the instrumental “Cinders” and the fantastic “Lessons Learned” the duo never really revs it up and blows it out. I think this album will translate very well in their live show, and perhaps the tunes will have more of that unchecked giddiness the group is known and loved for. I just wish they had found a little more of that here on the plastic disc that was delivered to my front door.
Grand was released on Inauguration Day, a day where a large portion of American’s found a lot of positive energy and hope. I don’t think this can be understated though I doubt it was calculated on the part of Matt and Kim or Fader. Grand is a testemant to hope and to change both in it’s craft and it’s fabric. I can’t think of a better record to underline the feelings our nation is in. Matt and Kim will bring a smile to your face, will make you shuffle your feet on the street and for me, that’s a lot to celebrate.