ake two musicians (usually two fresh-faced and attractive members of the opposite sex) and have them pare down their sound to the bare essentials: rhythm section and any melodic instrument, and you've discovered a modus operandi of the hype machine. Working within these set limitations, not only can the duo showcase their nervy enterprise but they can also exploit the sexual tension and chemistry that inevitably grows when making sweet music together. An alleged rock 'n' roll romance is sometimes just a marketed rock 'n' roll swindle.
While Jack & Meg piqued our curiosity-at least for awhile-with the "Is it incestual or is it connubial?" charade, and the happily betrothed Mates of State proudly invite us to be the ultimate witnesses to their matrimonial bliss, both only mock our third wheel position as audience. Matt and Kim, though, are that unassuming, cool couple that don't refer to their relationship within the music and thereby avoid the self-promotion of the mates/bandmates gimmick altogether.
Matt and Kim's ebullient pop-punky debut marries sugar-sprinkled giddiness with playground hi-jinks. Doe-eyed and grinning, Kim plays a raucous drum rhythm; Matt accompanies her tympanic vigor with zippy arcade-ready keyboards and joyous whoops. It's incredibly simple and formulaic, but their utter zeal makes it easier to overlook the music's obvious shortcomings.
And although it's uncomplicated, it isn't infantile. Superficially, the lyrics are platitudes and adolescent battle cries, but what else sums up youthful rebellion better than half-baked profundities? It's apparent that they have a fondness for the interminably upbeat and adorable, but beneath the blue skies, Matt and Kim are preoccupied with the prospect of aging. You can't blame them for longing to stay cute and bubbly forever. No one looks forward to becoming a wizened old coot.
And so when Matt sings trite lyrics in earnest-" I might grow old someday but I won't turn pale and grey;" "Life isn't how I pictured it / How one grew up and handled it when I was a child"-he does it in order to make plain our shared sophomoric notions about what it means to grow up.
The duo is known for their intimate shows in local Brooklyn apartments and warehouses. In their low-budget video for "5k," they reenact such a performance (and redefine "intimate") as they cut off limbs in a rather gory display to the sheer delight of their blood-drenched audience, who commit mass self-mutilation in response. Matt and Kim just want to get everyone involved with what they're doing-a rowdy, ecstatic, communal experience.
The propulsive synths and rhythmic bounce of "Yea Yeah" feels designed to spark crowd chaos; each laconic, titular yelp is defiantly positive, a stubborn refusal to end the festivities. By the song's finish, we've forgotten all about who's with who and what's what, but we can't stop smiling. Like the rest of the album, the song plays out like a field day under Popsicle-sticky heat, sweaty and satisfying-by the end, everybody feels like a winner.
Reviewed by: Jillian Crowther
Reviewed on: 2007-03-09