"Indi darlings" no more, Rilo Kiley are under a major spotlight (and major label) rather than a "blacklight". Filter magazine said it best, ""Under the Blacklight" doesn't sound like a Rilo Kiley record. It doesn't even sound like a Jenny Lewis record.", which is a shame because from their past few albums and Jenny's solo debut, a loyal and eager following had been flourishing. At a first cold listen, there'll probably be many folks out there throwing out the word "sell-out" on the table and for once, they MAY be right. However, you must decide for yourself. "Under the Blacklight" isn't just a new direction these guys have taken rather than turn into a brand new band all together and though it's NOT at all a bad ablum, the listener needs to not expect for old-Rilo Kiley to show up anywhere.
If this were the debut of an entirely new and different band with a different name, "Under the Blacklight" would be an awesome pop album but the fact that this record bears the name Rilo Kiley, it's a HUGE disapointment, especially to die hard fans. There's hardly an inkling of a folk sound (save for "The Angels Hung Around) or even a bit of that country twang we're so used to hearing. Instead, you get total pop! Now, I'm not saying pop is bad; I rather enjoy pop. It just needs to be worth my time. Rest assured, the album IS worth it (excluding "The Moneymaker"- bad all around, lyrically and musically; what major miss!). In fact, it's an excellent for what it is.
"Under the Blacklight" uses two different producers here and it definitly shows. Half of the album sounds like "bar/party music" and the other half sounds like a throw back to the 50s ("15") or early sixties ("Smoke Detector"- a modern day "Twist"?). Though, to me, "Dejalo" sounds like a Gloria Estefan dance song and there're bits of hint of disco elements to both "Breakin' Up" and the song, "Under the Blacklight". My inital response to "Dreamworld" was merely luke warm but after a few listens, the song has become illuminated with cool overtones that can't be ignored. This is the song that everone will be quick to say, "Fleetwood Mac"! The only song that even remotely-sort-of sounds like old-Rilo Kiley or at least Jenny Lewis a la "Rabbit Fur Coat", is the opener, "Silver Lining". It's simply gorgeous.
Still, there is an unfortunate aspect of this new album and that's either the under use of the band or the complete absent of the band itself. A lot of these songs (85% of them) just sound like Jenny Lewis doing a pop act. Sennet, Reeder, and Bosel are sadly unimpressive which is CRAZY because everyone knows Sennet rocks on the guitar and Bosel is awesome on drums. In fact, "Close Call" is the only song Sennet gets to shine. It's a bit frustrating when you know how talented this band really is and all you get is a "good" effort (intramentally); no "wowness" here. Besides the terrible "The Moneymaker", there's another miss that belongs to "Give a Little Love", which a completely overbaked muffin that's too sweet for it's own good. The sound is borderline R&B; no joke! It just lacks originality. Any pop princess out there could have sung this. In fact, they probably have. It's awful! Just awful! And cheesy.
Overall, this is going to be one of those albums where it must be played a few times for the initial shock to sink in. I've been listening to this constantly since its relase, and even now I have trouble fathoming the fact that Rilo Kiley is playing, but it IS an excellent pop album. Perphaps, it'll just have to win you over over time, and it may not even take as long as it's done with others.
Still, I can't help but wonder if this simply is an atempt to widen their fan base which I'm sure a lot of people WILL admire and gravitate towards this album, but for myself and for other fans of Rilo Kiley from the get-go, MAY be a little disapointed at first and a little nervous to be honest.
1. Silver Lining
2. Close Call
5. Breakin' Up
9. Smoke Detector