Brooklyn couple Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino didn’t know how to play their instruments—keys and drums, respectively—when they first teamed up in 2004. Still, as Matt & Kim, they released their debut two years later, and follow-up Grand is an immediately gripping work that holds up after repeated listens.
The album was recorded at Johnson’s parents’ house in Vermont (Schifino says the home is “surrounded by three cow pastures”). Still, its whimsical, genre-fluid style makes it feel as if it were conceptualized at a swinging party—one where the spiked punch flowed freely. Though most of the tracks maintain traditional pop structures, influences vary wildly. “Cutdown” invokes electro and new wave; “Don’t Slow Down” is dance-punk; and “Gold Ol’ Fashion Nightmare,” the most memorable song, can best be described as a nursery rhyme with adult themes.
From the quirky, immediate fun of leadoff track “Daylight” to eerie, serious closer “I’ll Take You Home,” there’s very little to dislike. Some of the tunes don’t feel quite complete; “I Wanna” and “Spare Change” are both under two minutes long. Still, the thoroughly danceable Grand feels effortlessly conceived, even though, as is usually the case with works this compelling, it surely wasn’t.