If there's one awfully big, double dare kind of challenge that'll always sit in front of any new recording effort tenderhearted, Brooklyn duo Matt and Kim enter in to, it's the daunting task of attempting to go toe to toe with their manic, live performances on record. Just how does one capture the penultimate energy, slightly inebriated edge, and punky passion that pours from the stage night after night on album? I suppose the answer is you don't. Thankfully, Matt and Kim know this. How else do you explain the band's rather blaring move towards a more natural sounding set of songs on their newest long player Grand?
From the moment Grand gets going, this new musical pedigree is obvious enough. "Daylight" kicks off with Matt's skittish plunk on what sounds like an old, beat up piano. Kim shuffles along for her part, cooking up a wooden rhythm on the rims of her drums. It's cool, carefree, and completely stripped down; almost as if the two are messing around (musically!) in their bedrooms. Actually, that kind of vibe makes sense. The band recorded most of Grand in Matt's childhood bedroom in Vermont. Other tracks that take up their new organic cause include the instant sing-a-long song "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare" and the plodding, foot stomper "Spare Change".
Of course, the thing about Matt and Kim is, it's hard to hear their music without imagining what it sounds like flooding through the speakers of your local music venue. And though Grand sounds different at times, Matt and Kim have hardly gone soft. There are also still a number of synthetic, spazz anthems here...this time offered with production technique that sparkles just a bit more than previous efforts. "Cut Down" and "Don't Slow Down" are the two most classic sounding of the bunch, complete with disgustingly simple, one fingered keyboard lines (Matt's most likely pointing his other hand up to the heavens, you see), and drums that sound as if they should be crumbling under the weight of Kim's heavy, surehanded hits. - David Pitz