14 August, 2007, 558 pm
Filed under: Music, Nouvelle Musique

August 21st will mark the release of Rilo Kiley’s fourth album, Under the Blacklight. When I heard this in May, I pooped in my pants. See, for me, Rilo Kiley is somewhat of a prophet band to listen to on the lonely nights or on long car rides. Granted, I used to prefer the sweet stylings of vocalist Jenny Lewis when I was in my “girly” mood, but over the past month or so, living in Pennsylvania, I’ve adapted Rilo Kiley’s albums as a sort of Bible for my sad self. And it’s worked to make me happier. I’ve changed my aspirations from wanting to be the average indie kid to working above and beyond and becoming the kind of 60s or 70s hippie chick Jenny Lewis is. I’m faced with many of the situations outlined in her songs and I’m eternally grateful to her for pushing her acting career aside to join a band not because she sucked at acting, but because I genuinely love her musical endeavours. So to be alive and an active listener during the chaos that is a Rilo Kiley album release would be magical. Plus, it’s been four years since More Adventurous, which is my favourite Rilo Kiley album. It has to get better, right?

Under the Blacklight

Now, Erika and I thought the same thing of the release of Bright Eyes’ billionth album, Cassadaga, which was released in March after about two years of waiting. Cassadaga was a toughie, because it had to follow the tough act of twins Digital Ash In A Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning from 2005. Well, I mean, Noise Floor was from 2006, but that was more a compilation than anything. I was really excited for Cassadaga, and it had its good songs…but it had like ten mediocre ones AND Conor Oberst lost the waver in his voice in favour of the strong croon of a real man. He’s 27 and finally growing up, but he’s a rock star. I miss his naivety. Needless to say, I was disappointed.


We also thought the same of The Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, released on March 10th (unless I’m mistaken)–that it would be phenomenal–and we weren’t disappointed. Actually, I’m lying. I was disappointed, but less momentously than I was by Bright Eyes. It’s not like Win Butler died or anything. Neon Bible was certainly decent. Just, it lacked a killer track like “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)” and there wasn’t a killer Regine track like “Haiti,” which is my favourite of favourite Arcade Fire tracks. I got over the disappointment, though, for this one, and learned to enjoy Neon Bible.

Neon Bible

And as though I hadn’t learned from any of our inaccurate assumptions, I guessed the same about Under the Blacklight. But from what I’ve heard of it, I’m not all too excited anymore. In fact, I’m a little upset.

First, let’s begin with their video for “Moneymaker.” When I heard the name of the song, I thought, “HAHA hip-hop.” The guitar and bass lines are catchy, and there are parts where the drums are hot. But let’s start at the beginning: A short interview with some pornstars. And the song is essentially about a guy fucking around. A pornstar. A moneymaker. I mean, the song sounds good. Do I like it? Yeah. But it’s not a favourite. The video makes it dangerous and foreign and edgy. The emotions in the song are shallow and detached, and I don’t really think of Rilo Kiley in that way, so it’s disappointing. But they’re on a major label now.  Just watch the video.

On their MySpace page, they’ve got “Moneymaker” and another new song called “Silver Lining.”  At first, “Silver Lining” seems more like the traditional Rilo Kiley, but once you get to the chorus, it sounds more like something off of Rachel Stevens’ solo effort.  Yes, Rachel Stevens from S-Club 7.  Yes, in all her “Funky Dory” glory she was hot, but that’s not what I want from Jenny Lewis.  I expect substance and ingenuity from her; otherwise, I would be listening to Rachel Stevens.

Rachel Stevens

It all comes down to the fact that Rilo Kiley’s on a major label.  They’re not selling out; they’re doing what they need to.  And we all knew it would happen.  I mean, everyone loves Jenny Lewis as is and they need more exposure.  The thing is, they’re becoming more mass-friendly.  Just read the review Rolling Stone gave them.

Because Rilo Kiley’s More Adventurous was a triumph of the well-made narrative song, its markedly terser and beatier follow-up, which is also the band’s true major-label debut, will be accused of sellout. Instead, it’s yet more adventurous, a prosperous band’s challenge to its comfortable cult. Always too cute for serious indie cred, Jenny Lewis slips four songs about dangerous sex in which she herself might be indulging — right now, in her pretty prosperity — into music that’s defined rather than just decorated by its stylistic flirtations. Repetitive if not wordless refrains pop up everywhere, one in Spanish with a Latin beat; here a soul horn section, there a Fleetwood Mac homage, there a synth outro and almost nowhere much guitar-band alt-rock. The emotions aren’t as detailed as in the past, but they’re no less intense. And why is it no one else has written a breakup song that incorporates how we describe a failing cell-phone connection?

The only promising thing about this is that they gave Under the Blacklight four stars as opposed to More Adventurous‘s three stars.  Maybe we’re not hearing the best from the album yet.  I mean, I’ll still buy the album.  It’s Rilo Kiley and I trust them.  Just, I’d be sad to see it all go downhill from here.  What if Rachael starts listening to them?  That’ll be the only true sign of damnation.

Rachael, my sister

That’s not the only release in August, though.  On August 7th, there came unexpected new material from Orenda Fink.  Just when you think she’s gone for good, she always comes back with a new project.

So there was Azure Ray and then there was Invisible Ones, and now, basically, there’s Art in Manila, which is Orenda Fink’s latest project.  In Azure Ray, I remember that Orenda Fink’s voice was often so delicate that it was overpowered by Maria Taylor’s own voice.  I can easily tell their voices apart, but I wished there was more Orenda.  Even on her solo album, Invisible Ones, her voice was delicate.  She’s toughened up since then, though, and you can tell where her voice comes from.  She came back with some attitude, and it seems her fellow female vocalist Adrianne Verhoeven gives her plenty of room.  My favourite of what I’ve heard thus far is “The Abomination.”  It’s real strong from the beginning.

Art in Manila


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

awesome stuff!

Comment by adam

your taste in music is just so refreshing compared to the crap most ppl listen to. it’s fun listening to you talk about it even when i don’t know all the details of the music because i know it’s all good stuff. btw there was a reference to rilo kiley in one of the gilmore girls episodes..lane was comparing this band to other bands and..yeah. i thought of you then.

Comment by divya

hey it’s divya. got a wordpress. not sure how much i like it..?

Comment by bringerofjollity

eh yeah i know, but i made a blogger too and it seems a little easier to use. idk.

but if wordpress isn’t blocked at school then it’s all good XD

Comment by bringerofjollity

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