My introduction to Rilo Kiley came via a cover mount cd from Word Magazine. The track was from their second album The Execution of All Things which I duly went out and purchased. The album lived up to the promise of the free track. It reminded me of label mates, Bright Eyes with the strong lyrics and great tunes but with the added bonus of Jenny Lewis’ voice and what a voice she has.
I think that it is just as well that I bought the album before I read up on the band. As when I read that the 2 founding members were child actors from the Valley, I could feel my inherent prejudice against precocious child actors turned musicians come to the fore. The charge of tweeness which was levelled at them more than once, I thought was a little harsh, however if I had read these reviews prior to listening to the album I would probably have steered clear of them. A lesson was learnt, give things a chance before dismissing them.
Later the same year (2004) the band released an even better album in the form of More Adventurous. This album was a more polished affair with string arrangements and better production. Two singles were released from the album, the anti-war Bush baiting It’s A Hit and the wonderful Portions For Foxes although there is not a track on the album that I would skip.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the follow-up, 3 years later entitled Under The Blacklight. This album has to be one of the most disappointing releases for me since EXTRMNTR. It is way too glossy, the production far too slick and the songs just not in the same league as the earlier material. I did wonder how much the critical acclaim and success of Lewis’ first solo album contributed to the lacklustre tunes on this release, was she reluctant to give the band her best songs instead wishing to keep them for her second solo outing. That was until the release of said album which was just as disappointing, in my opinion as Under The Blacklight. Several reviews likened the forth album to Rumours era Fleetwood Mac. A Fleetwood Mac for the 21st Century is not something which is needed.
It looks as though Rilo Kiley are now no more and it is sad that the last thing that they produced was as slick and corporate as it was, but if you disregard this album and look back at the previous 3, Rilo Kiley leave a better than average back catalogue.
Rilo Kiley – With Arms Outstretched (The song on the Word cd)
Rilo Kiley – 15 (The only track from the final album which, to me, is any good)