Warner Bros. records has staked its claim on one of indie rock’s most intriguing and talentedbands, and fans are in a tizzy. Critics and fans alike were holding their breath upon the release of what is considered Rilo Kiley’s “official” major label debut, Under the Blacklight. As a matter of fact, diehard fans have probably been holding their breath for awhile. While band members Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett focused on their solo projects, it seemed like a greatest hits recordwould soon come along to confirm the end of Rilo Kiley. However, to most of the indie rockcrowd, what resulted instead was worse – a major-label record. For sure this meant the band’s outstanding quality of music would plummet – right?
Actually, Under the Blacklight serves as the breath of fresh air Rilo Kiley fans have beengasping for. While the content of the album ranges, Under the Blacklight is not as dark asits predecessor, More Adventurous. The lyrics, which Rilo Kiley is known for, have not beendiluted either. No, the music industry has not poisoned what the band has built itself on. Rather,it seems that this new chapter for the band has allowed it to expand creatively. No two songs onthe album sound alike, yet all of the tracks still sound like Rilo Kiley, not to mention the catchyhooks that are laced throughout the album. The record opens with what are probably two of its best songs, “Silver Lining” and “Close Call,” the latter of which speaks about the dangers of the sex industry. Other album highlights include “Dreamworld,” during which Lewis steps back and Sennett takes over the lead vocals, and “15,” which tells the story of an internet relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and an older man.
Many sing praises of the closing track, “Give a Little Love,” however the song, while simple and peaceful, is void of anything that makes it stand out against the others. Its simplicity, though, is what makes it close the album with such grace.
The only song that seems somewhat out of place is “Dejalo,” a salsa/funk tune slapped in the middle of the album. Upon first listen, the track sounds like a bad Jennifer Lopez coversong, but its catchy beats and verses soon stick in listeners’ heads.
Lewis’s voice is beyond phenomenal on every track of Under the Blacklight, and the lyrics are clever and deep. “And she came to him like a tick on the noose/Little blue-eyed soul forhis black and blues,” sings Lewis on “15.”
Many critics compare the band and this particular album to Fleetwood Mac, perhaps because of its cool, West Coast feel. However, the band’s creativity paired with Lewis’s outstanding voice give Rilo Kiley a sound of its own.
Under the Blacklight serves as the type of album that will forever remind listeners of summer, relaxation and downtime with their friends. So while the sound may have changed, the vibe of the music remains the same; old and new fans alike are left breathless, in a whole new way.