What many people tend to not realize about Matt & Kim (besides the fact that they aren’t married, dating, or even brother and sister) is that they are now pushing ten years old (coming up on their eighth) and are now into their fourth album. But when dealing with, what many YouTube playlists call, the indie band that everyone wishes they discovered, you are dealing with underground superstars that tend to hit the spotlight for all of 20 minutes before calmly slipping back into the shadows, only to wow people two years later for another annoyingly short period of time. This is a band that pushes the envelope and also manages to do it on their own, while remaining one of the most fun and sometimes painfully happy bands out there. This, of course, is meant in a complimenting manner, and it’s also important to let you know right now that Lightning is not only brilliant, but it’s also sure to keep these two important for at least 21 minutes.
The album opens up with the single “Let’s Go”, featuring an unquestionably catchy drum beat and the return of the piano and subtle synths from Sidewalks. Toss in the melodic “ooo’s” and Matt Johnson screaming out “hey” and “let’s go!” in the background, and you already have a gem. “Now” is what follows, opening up with Grand style bass drum and snare combos along with Johnson’s notable half-talking vocals. Then the song does this magical thing where it drops like a dubstep song. The even better part is the drop stays poppy, which may or may not be extremely contradictory. After a breakdown and another explosion into the chorus, this song ends up being the most positive surprise you could want from this album. “It’s Alright” opens up with the horns and clapping fans came to know and love, and tosses in bells and great vocals to round this out as a wonderful song. “Not That Bad” is one of the album’s slower and more thought out songs, but it is incredibly fine tuned. It has a fraction of the instruments present in most of the songs on this record, but it ends up sounding just as complete and full.
“Overexposed” has a powerful synth lead intro with a powerful drum core, and it has an interesting take on the “start, stop” technique with nearly all instruments periodically dropping out, leaving only Johnson’s vocals with the lead. “I Said” features a dribble bass and a stuttery lead part, and it ends up being one of the more electronic-sounding songs. But don’t fret, there’s still a piano-only part. “Tonight” has a very apparent dancefloor sound, even one that is a little more than Matt & Kim fans are used to. Complete with claps and the band’s usual homage to New York, this is a very upbeat track that is a big one on the album. “I Wonder” is a song that contemplates what you would do with a second chance, all while the duo creatively puts a groove on their usual sound. The album closes out with “Much Too Late”, a speedy track that shows of Matt & Kim at their finest, with the unbelievable drums and synths people have come to expect, and “Ten Dollars I Found”. Not only is this a play on one of the best ways to end a poorly told story (“…and then I found ten dollars.”), but it is also a beautiful, 2 minute ballad that features the two members on harmonized vocals.
As touched upon earlier, Lightning may be the album that pulls Matt & Kim into the limelight and then barricades them in. Handling all aspects of today’s pop music, indie music, and a little bit of dance music (still in awe of the drop on “Now”), the Brooklyn duo threw together something new and special that also manages to keep grasping their well-established sound. Against the view of the reviewing community, Nutshell gives Lightning a commanding 98/100. Somebody please give us something bad to review, we are running out of numbers that start with 9.
- Let’s Go
- It’s Alright
- Not That Bad
- I Said
- I Wonder
- Much Too Late
- Ten Dollars I Found