In an interview with Incendiary magazine in 2006, Rilo Kiley's frontwoman Jenny Lewis spoke about "selling out":
"I try not to covet the music that I love, I’ve done that in the past, where something becomes popular and then suddenly I don’t want to go to the shows anymore. I think selling out is a lewd point when the music stays the same. So if the music is pure, then why not offer it out to the people and give them something better than, you know, Fall Out Boy or other crap that’s on the radio."
Rilo Kiley's new album, Under The Blacklight, puts Jenny's answer to the test. Having moved to a big label, the new CD is unabashedly poppy and commercial. I love Rilo Kiley, I thought the previous album, More Adventurous, was a work of beauty. And now there was this '80s referencing Jenny-as-Debby-Harry gig, one on which only two tracks sound like traditional Rilo Kiley. In my review of the album, I asked: "Can there be an accommodation with old and new fans? Will the old fanbase buy into the new sound ? Will Under The Blacklight accomplish the mainstream breakthrough it so evidently aspires to? And will the old fans still be there if it doesn't?"
The trick is to divorce Blacklight from its predecessors, which I tried to do, with incomplete success, in the review. If this album had been released by an unknown act, the blogosphere would be hyping it as "the next big thing", because this is a superior pop album. So we must lay to rest the indie-folkies of the first three albums, and live with happy memories. Oh, and happy these memories will be. The delicious country-folk of "More Adventurous", the dripping-with-sex confusion of "Portions For Foxes" ('...and then talking leads to touching, and touching leads to sex, and then there is no mystery left'. And that command: "Come here!" Hell, what an incredible song), the Patsy Cline homage of "I Never", the folkish sing-along of "With Arms Outstretched", the acerbic sassiness of "It's A Hit", the Bright Eyes-influence (or influencing) of "Plane Crash In C", the heartbreaking "Does He Love You?", the Celtic hues of "Rest Of My Life"...
Will my love for these be diminished by a turn in the group's musical direction, when the product of that change is great on its own merits? Should an artist be a hostage to our expectations? As I write, I'm dancing along to the catchy-ass chorus of "Breakin' Up". And when "Dreamworld" (described somewhere else as "the best song Fleetwood Man never did") comes on, I'll groove along to that as well. I am falling in love with Under The Blacklight, too.
Rilo Kiley - Breakin' Up.mp3 (from Under The Blacklight, 2007)
Rilo Kiley - Dreamworld.mp3 (from Under The Blacklight, 2007)
Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous.mp3 (from More Adventurous, 2004)
Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes.mp3 (from More Adventurous, 2004)
Rilo Kiley - It's A Hit.mp3 (from More Adventurous, 2004)
Rilo Kiley - With Arms Outstretched.mp3 (from The Execution of All Things, 2002)
Rilo Kiley - Rest Of My Life.mp3 (from Take-Offs And Landings, 2001)
Rilo Kiley - Plane Crash In C.mp3 (from Take-Offs And Landings, 2001)