Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Review: Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight

I went out at lunch and bought the new Rilo Kiley CD, "Under the Blacklight." They have long been one of my top five bands, so I was very excited to pick this up on its release date.

I went back to work editing test cases and popped it into my disc player. The first song, "Silver Lining," with its light folk-rock swing, soulful backing vocal lines, and high lead guitar licks, seemed to signal that this would be the logical next album for Rilo Kiley. It is the culmination of the masterpiece of alt-rock that was More Adventurous, and the country filled, vocal heavy, autobiographical Jenny Lewis solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat.

As the album progressed, though, it was quickly apparent that this was something totally different. Track two, "Close Call," was still Rilo Kiley, but with a distinctly more polished sound than I'm used to (this is their first major label release, so this is not surprising). By track three, "The Moneymaker," the album's true color is cemented. "Under the Blacklight" is a fusion of mere hints of the Rilo Kiley of days past with high production, classic hard rock (read Heart or Fleetwood Mac), and a surprising prolific Latin/R&B dance beat. This is perhaps slightly less surprising when one reflects that Lewis admits to listening exclusively to rap in her early adulthood, in the period between being a child actress and rising to indie rock stardom.

I have mixed feelings, since, like any devoted fan, I was anticipating and hoping for something that would add comfortably to the catalog that I know and love, but Lewis and co-writer Blake Sennett have never disappointed with their thoughtfulness and musicality. I'm sure this disc will grow on me in repeated listenings.

My one true complaint so far is that the lyrics are much less introspective and poetic than Lewis's previous pieces. Perhaps there is more solo material in her queue where she will employ her lyrical efforts in a more focused way once again.

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