Rilo Kiley toys with fresh sounds, sustains indie roots
The members of Los Angeles indie-rock group, Rilo Kiley, return with Under the Blacklight, its first release since 2004’s More Adventurous, after successful solo adventures. The band’s second major release from Warner Bros. Records, Blacklight clings to the group’s indie roots while gently introducing a more pop-oriented sound dashed with quasi-sexual feelings, broken hearts and synthesized beats.
Straight off of her successful solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat, with the Watson Twins, and appearing with The Postal Service on their highly prosperous album Give Up, Jenny Lewis joins fellow members Pierre de Reeder, Jason Boesel and Blake Sennett to reform a much more exuberant version of the previously solemn band.
The album’s first single, "The Moneymaker," is fueled by society’s infatuation with lustful behavior both in lyric and in its’ soulful hip-shaking rhythm. The lines, "You are the moneymaker / She is yours for the taking / You know you wanna make her / Show her your moneymaker," bring to mind thoughts of desire from the darkest places.
This naughty behavior becomes a theme throughout the album. "Dejalo" finds Lewis in a sultry voice begging for immediate companionship and "15" shines bright with a Dusty Springfield-like sound that exposes the truths of underage promiscuity.
"Ooh, it feels good to be free," the group insists on "Breakin’ Up," an ode to turning the page that is danceable to say the least. "Give A Little Love," the album’s closer, smoothes things out with the introduction of heavy bass and synthesizers that are sure to keep bodies swinging.
While the group ushers in enough new sounds to keep it fresh, Blacklight has the gang sounding best when they rely on their indie roots and crafty songwriting. Nowhere on the album is this more apparent than on "Silver Lining," where Lewis’ voice sprouts arms to wrap around you while Sennett’s guitar riffs are easily approachable. "Close Call" retains the back-alley lifestyle that the album presents while Lewis resembles a siren beckoning her prey. The title track also brings the listener back to the band’s early sounds and would not sound out of place on any of their previous albums.
Filling out the album are "Dreamworld," Sennett’s crafty work that brings to mind pre-grunge college radio; "Smoke Detector," a giddy, 1960s style ditty that will surely induce listeners to sing along; and "The Angels Hung Around," a country-rock ballad that features guest guitarist Jackson Browne.
The So-Cal group was at their best when they formed this masterpiece. Blacklight is not only the band’s best album to date, it is also one of 2007’s best albums. When all is said and done, the band leaves us with a collection of songs that wouldn’t seem out of place in a smoky lounge or a local nightclub.