Matt & Kim Get Ambitious

Matt & Kim Get Ambitious
"Keyboard and drums were what we could do a live show with, but that wasn't necessarily what we were as a band," Matt Johnson explains. The Brooklyn-based duo - Johnson and his band-mate/girlfriend Kim Schifino - are known for giving charming interactive performances and throwing hyperactive dance parties. But when it came time for their follow-up to 2006's self-titled debut, they realized their simple set-up needed to expand.

The result is Grand, a lofty effort filled with a much more refined take on their gusto and hooky, spunky pop. Recorded in Johnson's childhood bedroom, Grand illustrates that the first album's minimalism was not necessarily by design. "I always wanted more diversity with the instruments, but we had so little time and money, we didn't get to take any chances or try anything, we just set up as we set up live and recorded," Matt says. "I don't necessarily believe that the best live song is the best recorded song, I think they're two very different things."

Grand doesn't quite maintain the intensity of their raucous gigs, but according to Matt that was the point. "We wanted to make an album that just stood out on its own as an album," he says, "and just went for making the best possible recorded songs that we could. And then we took those songs and tried making them the best live songs they could be."

Though achieving a more expansive sound, Matt & Kim didn't abandon their bread and butter. "I wrote some of our early songs on a baritone ukulele, but it translates better with a keyboard, so we figured we could do all of the songs on that set-up," admits Matt. "But I still think Matt & Kim is just whatever the heck Matt & Kim play."