Under the Blacklight
If ever there was a reason for an actress to become a musician, it was Jenny Lewis.
After taking time out from her band (Rilo Kiley) to make an astonishingly perfect solo album (Rabbit Fur Coat), she has rejoined her boys to put out an album that will surely make it into virtually every major end of the year Top 10 list. Under the Blacklights, the band’s fourth album — first for a major label — so far surpasses the band’s prior efforts that it’s not even comparable. It may as well be a different band altogether. As much as everyone raved about 2004’s More Adventurous, for me it felt like a series of incomplete ideas. Looks like all the band needed was for their red headed muse to take some alone time to find her voice. Rilo Kiley has returned from the hiatus as an exciting band, not just for their former indie admirers but for the masses.
Under the Blacklights is a mash up of seemingly incompatible genres: disco, country, and late ’60s hippie rock. Abba meets Lucinda Williams meets Fleetwood Mac (complete with former lovers as the songwriting team, Lewis dated guitarist Blake Sennett). It’s a strange cocktail, but intoxicating nonetheless. In fact, this concoction only sours twice during the course of the album’s 11 songs: “Dejalo” (the Spanish song), and album closer “Give a Little Love.” That last song steers way too far into the world of easy listening pop music. It very quickly goes from having a palatable Sarah McLachlan feel to being damn near Britney! End the album on track 10 to maintain a good taste in your mouth.
Those small stumbles aside “Close Call,” “Breakin’ Up” and “15” are three songs I will not tire of anytime soon. This album is sexy, dancable, and soaked in just enough R&B to call for candle lights and red wine.
Rilo Kiley: www.rilokiley.com