Saturday, September 8, 2007

Rilo Kiley's "Under The Blacklight"

After a two-year hiatus, Rilo Kiley conciously plunges headfirst into the mainstream with Under The Blacklight, trading in haunting, yet uplifting ballads for more lyrically shallow toe-tappers.
While the album semi-satisfies a Kiley quench, one cannot help but feel the void left by the overly synthesized and high pitched songs. Instead of bearing raw, soul-stripping vocals as if Lewis is talking directly to your soul, she moves up an octave to deliver vocals to match the new upbeat direction. The new songs lose the quality old favourites such as "The Good That Won't Come Out" and "A Better Son/Daughter" carry to our conscience.
The album opens with the promising "Silver Lining", quite possibly lead singer Jenny Lewis's jab at ex-boyfriend, Rilo Kiley lead guitarist Blake Sennett, singing "I was your silver lining, but now I'm gold." Perhaps indicating she's over their 2001 break-up or perhaps boasting her critically acclaimed success in her solo endeavor Rabbit Fur Coat in comparison to Sennett's less receptive work with his other band Elected. The album continues on with "Close Call" with Lewis singing frankly about the dangers of "sex for money". Next is Kiley's controverisal first single off the album "The Moneymaker". Lewis bluntly addresses the porn industry and its appeal to many, but at times seems as if she's guiding others to give in. "You've got the money maker, they showed the money to you" As if saying you got it, they're buying, why not? A steer from the old Rilo Kiley.
Next up is "Breakin' Up" credited to both Lewis and Sennett. Somewhat generic, yet liberating at the same time as the chorus sings "Ooh, it feels good to be free". The title track sets up for a possibly epic song, yet fails to deliver and utilize Lewis's revered mutilating voice on a lyrically intricate track.
"Dreamworld" becomes an instant classic, the only song on the album penned by Sennett alone. "The people, all that you meet, they're living in a dreamworld," stays with you long after the song is over, far more memorable than any of the other tracks. "Dejalo" visualizes Lewis as a less ethnic Gloria Estefan, but fails to hit the mark completely. "15" tackles on what Dateline more shamelessly does. In this tale of web romances with 15-year olds, the older man meets with his "prey" yet "how could he have known that she'd be down for almost anything?" They unflinchingly take on telling the side of the all too well known story from the supposed "predator"'s side, and does it with a bit more class. "Smoke Detector" starts out with an almost 60's beach anthem replacing "The Twist" with "The Smoke Detector" yet is a bit more contemporary than the twist. "Yeah, I was smoking in bed, this is what he said." Yet one cannot help but conjure images of hula-hoops and fisherman hats.
"The Angels Hung Around"'s lyrics meet the standard fans set for Rilo Kiley, but its beat can't help but get lost in the shuffle with other sub-par tracks, unfortuntely becoming easy to skip over. "Give A Little Love" closes up the album with an endearing catchiness missing from other tracks. Lewis's voice beats any chesse coming from synths as she sings at last "And you're waving to me our last goodbye..."
While the new album can hardly be held in such high esteem as The Execution of All Things or Take Offs and Landings, the album holds its ground in comparison to today's pop music. Hailed as the new Fleetwood Mac, Rilo Kiley may never live up to the comparison, this possibly being the last album (if not one of). In an interview with Spin magazine Lewis confesses, "I think I realized that [Rabbit Fur Coat] is the kind of music I want to be making... I can't do that with Rilo Kiley." And when posed with the question of seeing herself continuing with Rilo Kiley, "I honestly don't know." Although we may lose the old Rilo Kiley, bring it on, because if this is the new direction of pop music, I say "Good riddance".

Writer's Note:
When dismissing any expectations held for this album, I thoroughly enjoy every track and know I will continue to listen it incessantly. Compared with any other pop music, Rilo Kiley will win. But when faced with the choice of The Execution of All Things and Under The Blacklight, there is no contest.

3 comments:

shey said...

wtf, i meant to come to nicole blog and not nme.com...weird.

shey said...

ok, you obviously didnt understand what i meant by my previous comment.

what i meant was...wow, this is a good enough review to be included in some high rate music magazine or website. you are so smart. i love you.


the end.

Michael said...

I really liked it but haven't heard anything else by them so have nothing to compare it with, nice review!

 
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