Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Under the Blacklight

Rilo Kiley has gotten their groove on…and they’re not afraid to let it have free reign on their new album (all these years later I’m still using that term…go figure :-) There are no ballads on this record (another archaic term I refuse to let go for some reason)

Under the Blacklight, a song arc about lost love and hard life on the streets of the city, kicks off with a sparkling (if decidedly bittersweet) pop song, “Silver Lining”, that deftly sets the tone for the disc. The rocker “Close Call” (about ladies of negotiable affection and the dangers of their chosen profession) slips into the credible funk of “The Moneymaker” (also about the aforementioned ladies...it's not my favorite track on the disc but it's okay) and then into the irresistible dance groove of “Breakin’ Up” and the soaring power pop of the title track.

Jenny Lewis is in fine, soulful voice throughout these cuts…nothing like the more ethereal vocals on Rabbit Fur Coat, her great 2006 album with the Watson Twins… and she ably aided and abetted by the band’s stellar playing and by backing vocals from The Waters.

Blake Sennett takes the lead vocal on “Dreamworld”, the best Fleetwood Mac song that Lindsey Buckingham never wrote …and that’s not a slam, it’s a great track.

Lewis, who wrote or co-wrote most of the album, takes the mike for the jagged (and quite effective) funk of “Dejalo” and the horn-driven “15” (about a man’s apparently unknowing assignation with a girl of that age.”

The guitars are infectiously crunchy on the acerbic, poppy rocker “Smoke Detector”.

Under the Blacklight closes with two mid-tempo gems: the rueful, wistful “The Angels Hung Around” and the hopeful coda, “Give a Little Love”, which locks its gentle but insistent groove in a tight pocket.

From what I can see online, I guess a lot of longtime Rilo Kiley fans are not pleased with this disc…their major label debut…and its new direction. I don’t get it myself. It’s great record by a band willing to continue challenging itself. Yeah, they could keep remaking “I Never” or “It’s a Hit” but what would be the point of that?

Under the Blacklight rocks…and grooves…and intrigues…and stays with you long after it’s stopped playing. It’s all good to me.

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