I think great significance comes with a band’s fourth album. It’s a telling moment when you take into account what they have done before and what they just completed. How they’ve come this far (not all bands do), and where they’re evolving musically. And what that effort sounds like.
Results are mixed; you could have an album like Angles, by The Strokes, a band I love, but feel owed an apology to for this particular release. And on the flipside there’s No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom and The White Stripe’s Elephant: amazing records that strengthen their respective catalogs.
I’m happy to say that Matt and Kim’s fourth album, Lightning, leans towards the latter. With their current release, Matt and Kim experiment with New Wave synths while maintaining their crazy energy and banter-filled lyrics.
After Sidewalks was bursting with hip-hop beats, I was expecting there to be more on their follow-up. But Lightning is scarce with it—they’re still staggered throughout, just not as saturated (most notably are the tracks “It’s Alright” and “I wonder”).
“Overexposed,” is definitely the most pop song on the album, and “Now” is the song that one second takes you in the Delorean to the 80s, Aqua Net hair and legwarmers, only to bring you back to the present for a punk chants.
Overall, the thing that strikes the most is that they sound like Matt and Kim; within the whole album, there are their classic two-line lyrics, that are simple, illustrative, and deep (“Your watch is the same/But times have changed,” – from the song “Not That Bad”). Matt and Kim delve into several genres, but at their core they’re still the same dance-punk duo that makes you want to jump up and shout the lyrics along. Their video for “Let’s Go,” oozes this fact. Have you tried quietly sitting still while listening to their music? It’s fucking hard, if it’s at all feasible. Note: Matt and Kim have had music videos where people spontaneously show up and start dancing, and it seems completely natural.
And this is what is brilliant about their new album; that this pair from Brooklyn can bring new and old styles to their repertoire and it will still strike you in the face like a bolt of lightning.