Saturday, October 1, 2005

Records In Review: Rilo Kiley--More Adventurous

This one isn't really my thang, but, as my buddies in the Khmer Rouge might have put it: "The blog is mother, the blog is father..."

More Adventurous is Rilo Kiley's third album and first major-label release. Don't know much about their previous indie stuff from the early '00s. I note that singer/principal songwriter Jenny Lewis was the occasional female lead on the enjoyable The Postal Service album of a couple of years back. Most of the songs here are in the torch-song or loser love song vein, with the musical accompaniment alternating between electrified jangle-pop, country and slices of antique Americana. Pacing ranges between moderate and leisurely, as you'd expect for this kind of thing. Sometimes the sound is stripped-down and acoustic guitar led, and at other times it's rather OTT in the Stars vein (as in "Does He Love You?"), complete with drippy strings and langorous horns. The rhythm section is pretty minimalist, but the guitars are quite striking, with lots of different colours and some nice harmonized lines.

I suspect that your enjoyment of RK is going to depend on your empathy with the lyrics and Lewis' sweet but slightly wry delivery of same. The songwriting itself is pretty bald, and there's a lot of fairly obvious cadences, which I find tend to undermine the serious intent of the record as a whole. I like the more upbeat numbers, like the single "Portions For Foxes" (which for some reason reminds me of The Furs' "Heaven"), "Accidental Death" and "It's A Hit," although the title track is a very pretty tune in the country mode. There really are some appallingly arch moments, though, like the ridiculous "I Never" and guitarist Blake Sennett's solo number "Ripchord."

If you like traditional with the occasional knowing wink thrown in, then maybe this'll be your bag. Fair-to-middling pm music.