Thursday, February 07, 2008

Album Review: Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous (2004, 4.5/5)

After having completely fallen in love with Rilo Kiley's fourth album, Under the Blacklight, I decided to explore their previous work. I know some fans felt rubbed by their new album for being more mainstream, so I was interested to hear what they sounded like in the past. More Adventurous was the band's third album--a stepping stone between the indie The Execution of All Things and the mainstream Under the Blacklight, it was released on an indie label but distributed by Warner Bros. It also musically bridges those two albums, being both quirky like Execution but with more of the hooks found on Blacklight.

"It's a hit" has humorous lyrics ("any asshole can open a museum, put the things he loves on display"), horns and a bit of the country twang that peppers Blacklight, although Jenny's machine gun lyrical delivery here took awhile to win me over. Better yet is "Does He Love You?," another country-ish ballad, that finishes with a fantastic flourish of strings. "Portions for Foxes" is perhaps the abum's best-known track, as well as its most conventional, pushing a driving melody over bass and guitar rock.

After that, skip over oddity "Ripchord," which is thankfully only 2 minutes long, to the soulful croon of "I Never," which builds quietly from the first repetitive chorus through verses of country-tinged layers of vocal harmonies, twangy guitars and strings to the final belting chorus where Jenny really goes for it. That big sound contrasts with acoustic "The Absence of God," which features the memorable lyrics: "Folk singers sing songs for the working, baby; we're just recreation for all those doctors and lawyers. There's no relief for the bleeding heart."

The album maintains its consistency through its second half. "Accidental Deth" quivers with electronic flourishes over the acoustic guitars. Title track "More Adventurous" lays the country accents on thickly, as does final track "It Just Is." Neither are has much fun as rockin' "Love and War (11/11/46)" though (anyone who what that date means?).

More Adventurous isn't quite as much fun as Under the Blacklight, but it comes pretty close. There's more country influence here that I expected, which isn't a bad thing, as Jenny has the range for both gentle balladry as well as the more belting rock numbers.

Best: I Never, Does He Love You? Portions for Foxes, It's a Hit, Accidental Deth, The Absence of God, Love and War (11/11/46)

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