Under The Blacklight
So, Rilo Kiley. Old chums of Conor ‘Bright Eyes’ Oberst. Fronted by child actor-turned-indie minx Jenny Lewis. A few guys you wouldn’t recognise if they picked up guitars and drum sticks in front of the words ‘Rilo Kiley’ blown up in big neon letters.
Do-it-yourself history, but with a major label record contract. Yep, Rilo Kiley are Garden State indie – a tiny bit kooky, with a country twang and a Dylan record framed on the wall, but ultimately safe, complacent music for safe, complacent people. The fourth album from the Los Angeles band does a little to shake up your preconceptions. Mostly, it’s still Americana-lite indie – occasionally, though, they flash teeth. ‘Close Call’ echoes PJ Harvey’s downbeat snarl, guitars circling like descending ashes as Lewis drawls about prostitution and pickpockets. ‘The Moneymaker’ struts along with at least an awareness of the funk, with lean stabs of guitar and tumbling drum rolls. There’s even a couple of disco tracks. Unfortunatley the first, ‘Breakin’ Up’, walks a dangerous line between mirrorball euphoria and being groped by a pair of meaty, alcoholic hands on the dancefloor at Ritzy’s. Then there’s the actually quite excellent ‘Dejalo’, which is roughly how the Bee Gees would sound if they spent six months on a yacht partying with ladyboys and cocaine. “I’ve got a tail if you wanna chase it/I’ve got a tongue if you want to taste it”, coos Lewis, yet it’s joyful and innocent rather than jaded and sleazy – a lightweight thrill.
Sadly, it’s an isolated gem that can’t lift ‘Under The Blacklight’ out of its dull AOR mire. Lewis plays the minx to the hilt, but there’s precious little here to get the blood pumping, and by the close, you’re thinking that selling out isn’t selling your songs to adverts; it’s just sounding like you want to.