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Under the Blacklight

An album by Rilo Kiley

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Mass appeal done right

  • Dec 3, 2009
  • by
Rilo Kiley's ability to turn tragic stories into gorgeous pop/rock reaches its apex on Under the Blacklight. "Silver Lining" and "15" are stunningly beautiful tales of lives gone astray, while "Breakin' Up" is the most joyous breakup song imaginable. 

Their sound is slightly more polished than on their earlier records, which of course leads to cries of "sellouts!" from the indie rock purists. Obviously, I tend to disagree - the polish serves to highlight the dramatic irony of the gorgeous songs about tragedy. This is marvelous stuff, and one of the best and most appealing rock albums to come out in years.

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About this album


Since her band's last record (2004'sMore 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
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Artist: Rilo Kiley

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