Rilo Kiley's most recent album, 2004's More Adventurous, prompted Elvis Costello to praise the best lyric writing that I've heard in many a day, Coldplay to invite the band on its 2005 arena tour and a plethora of critics to vote the disc onto annual best of lists. That album sold 175,000 while Jenny Lewis' solo record, 2006's Rabbit Fur Coat, sold 100,000. Now the gloriously decadent Under The Blacklight, the group's fourth album but first for Warner Bros., focuses even more intensely on what one critic has called lead singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis' tangle of indie pop, torch song and too-cool-for-school cynicism. With Under The Blacklight, Rilo Kiley is ready to shine.
Since her band's last record (2004's More Adventurous
), Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis has taken her one-time child-actress, pop-star status up a level, as her charismatic solo effort, Rabbit Fur Coat
, was one of the top recordings of 2006. But those who feared she'd abandon her long-time mates to do it alone will be instantly comforted by a collection of songs so zestful and extravagantly produced that no less than four emerge tailor-made for pop radio. After the opener "Silver Lining" feeds off George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" riff and some cajoling handclaps, Lewis reels in the glee with "Close Call," where the lavishness of the melodies outweighs the foreboding lyrics. The bouncy "Breaking Up," with the sun-splashed chorus "feels good to be free," is so absolutely California-beach perfect, it's ripe for a million-selling soda commercial, and then Lewis saves her vocal best for a trifecta near the end: Dusty Springfield soul ("15"), dancefloor power pop ("Smoke Detector"), and meltaway folk ("The Angels Hung Around"). Did it take their angel leaving the nest for a spell for Rilo Kiley to make their definitive record? The argument is futile, but the music is sublime. --Scott Holter