Now five albums in, alternative dance pop duo Matt and Kim’s latest offering, New Glow, is a thoroughly kitsch affair. The record is a short and sweet (verging on sickly) collection of effervescent tracks with their DIY production feeling far more camp than previous records. New Glow’s sound strips back the “dance” – and I use the term loosely - genre to a childlike joy, and when combined with their party-esque lyrics, sits somewhere between an edgier Owl City and a cleaned up Ke$ha. Indeed their sunny pop sound would slot perfectly into the soundtrack of any happy-go-lucky American sitcom. However, this album is far from brilliant. Matt and Kim’s song writing and melodies are incredibly repetitive and really lack any sentimental or imaginative depth. Anyone who prides themselves with a credible taste in music is probably best avoiding the record!
New Glow wastes no time in getting things going. On pressing play, the brazen trumpet riff and breathy snare drum of Hey Now blurts out with all the pep of a high school marching band. Throughout the record Matt Johnson’s vocals strain with enthusiasm and this track is no exception. By the time he reaches gloopy electro-ballad I See Ya, his overzealous positivity results in it being utterly void of any emotion. This same constant chirpiness renders pseudo teen-rock Not Alone completely trashy while the track’s whiney drawl is cringey to say the least.
Auto tune heavy Hoodie On becomes a nightmarish joke. It’s like a nerdy bloke’s attempt at Beyoncé’s Flawless, spurting lyrics such as “I woke up like this, put a hoodie on”. The swarm of irritating blips and languid content establishes Hoodie On as the worst song on the entire album. Additionally, Make A Mess sounds just as its title suggests. Imagine if a hyperactive Alphabeat (yeah, remember them?) were let loose at a videogame arcade, full of buzzing 8-bit notes and trumpets. Instead of evoking some kind of jolly riot, it is really quite sloppy. Meanwhile, World Is Ending attempts to resonate with epic synths and bleaker lyrics but ends up a bit pointless to me. It begs the question, are Matt and Kim trying to prove they have a darker, edgier side on an otherwise glittery pop album?
Despite the drivel, New Glow has some saving graces, and there are flashes of sophistication on the record. Stirred Up opts for a more hip-hop vibe with skipping beats and clashing synths reminiscent of chipmunk rapper Chiddy Bang. For me, Can You Blame Me outshone the entire record being far more considered and crafted than anything else New Glow has to offer. Not to mention that the track’s irrefutably upbeat nature, afforded by the piano heavy backing, is an instant winner. Another gem is single Get It, which glides easily from tuneful melodies to more freeform digital sounds making it one of the more sonically interesting songs on the album. Indeed it demonstrates a more mature sound compared to everything else.
To be honest, New Glow is like pappy Warburtons – full of refined sugar, bleached of any nutritional benefit, and all round pretty crappy for you, yet it tastes good, right? As a one off, the album is mildly enjoyable in its irrepressible peppy manner. Matt and Kim are undeniably a bundle of non-stop, upbeat, good clean fun. But the record falls drastically short of any vague association to the term masterpiece, and God does Matt’s over pronounced American accent get annoying! Thoroughly cheesy, lyrically shallow and all around naff, New Glow is ultimately a bit of fun, but don’t expect any kind of decent music.