Rilo Kiley – Under The Blacklight

Rilo KileyRilo Kiley are a band that have been under the mainstream radar for quite some time now. After releasing three albums since 2001 on a variety of indie labels (including the rather excellent Saddle Creek records), this is the band’s first for Warner Bros. and the first after lead singer/guitarist Jenny Lewis’ solo album from last year. Rilo Kiley were the warm-up band for Coldplay on their last tour and so far they’ve shifted about three quarters of a million albums. So naturally, the assumption is that the move to a major label will see the band make some headway in the mainstream (I’ve already seen them on one magazine cover and they were the main feature review in a recent Q magazine).

Indeed it’s hard to see why this album shouldn’t be a fairly decent success. Especially with songs like “Breakin’ Up”, a fun, upbeat, disc song that sounds like Blondie in their new-wave prime. Then it’s contrasted with “15”, a sweet country soul song that you could easily hear Dolly Parton belting out (or Shania Twain, if you’re particularly masochistic). Then there’s “Give A Little Love”, a sleek, polished 80’s pop song complete with retro sounding drum machine. Whilst this probably sounds all contrived, none of these tracks feel out of place on the album.

Maybe that’s because Jenny Lewis’ sining voice is both warm and strong, but not flashy. The album is full of catchy melodies, that sometime skirt close to being middle of the road fluff (the album’s title track comes perilously close, but still sounds good). But it’s hard to be impressed with the craft of these songs, there’s no wasted space, no indulgent parts just quality songs. I think my favourite is the single song sung by guitarist Blake Sennet, “Dreamworld”: a smooth, twilight-ish song with some beautiful chiming guitars. All in all, a rather excellant pop album.

Rilo Kiley – The Moneymaker: (Not Safe For Work-ish)


  1. Rilo Kiley have also recently appeared as big parts in Blender and Under the Radar; I think the cover one you’re talking about would have to be Spin, since, well, they’re on the cover. It’s even a pull-out cover where initially, Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett are on the cover, and then you pull it out and there are Jason Boesel and Pierre de Reeder. Kinda neat.

    As for their album, uh, I guess I should say this–the reason I bought those magazines in the first place is because I love Rilo Kiley, plain and simple. I have all their previous albums, I’ve researched the band quite a bit, and I listen to them more frequently than I listen to any other band. I bought the album on the release date, and I had to listen to it many times because I was perplexed. Rilo Kiley is known for being a charming band. And this album wasn’t particularly charming. You couldn’t even compare it with past ones. “Give a Little Love” was most disappointing, but generally, Under the Blacklight lacked some serious substance that they used to have quite a lot of. The two exceptions to that would be the fluffy “Silver Lining” and “Breakin’ Up.” And while they were fairly fluffy, they were comparable to Rabbit Fur Coat and something by the Postal Service, respectively. “Dreamworld” was good, too, I agree, but maybe you just have to be in a mood to listen to it.

    Anyway, it greatly pleased me that you wrote about them, even if our reactions to the album were different. I forget how I got here, but I Bookmarked you a while ago because I liked what I saw and just stumbled back today and was reminded why I Bookmarked you. Music.

  2. Thanks very much. I have to be honest and say that I’ve not listened to any of the previous Rilo Kiley albums at all; this is my first one. They’ve been getting decent reviews, so I thought I’d dip my toes as the saying goes. No doubt, I’ll be giving the album some more listens but I did enjoy it. I suppose with the perspective of listening to all their albums, I could easily have another opinion. Anyway, glad you liked my writing, it’s good to know someone is reading!

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