>> Featured Artist: Rilo Kiley
Someimes it seems a band can do nothing wrong. That's what I would have told you had you approached me a few months ago about the new Rilo Kiley album, Under the Blacklight. Then I heard the leaked single - "The Moneymaker" - but I reserved judgment, sending a "Seriously, guys?" email to the band's info@ address late one night instead.
So it was with sweaty palms that I picked up Blacklight (with the New P's release) a few weeks ago.
Two spins in is as far as I could get. This album registers just north of "pure shit." Whatever it lacks in inspiration and interesting storytelling (two things I never thought would dry up for this combo) is made up for by forced sex themes and otherwise depraved goings-on (e.g., a disco song. Yes, a disco song - and probably not for irony's sake, unless of course it's double irony - "isn't it ironic that we actually wanted to do this and not just for irony's sake?").
The lyrics - usually the band's strong suit - are consistently weaker than anything I've ever heard come out of this band. Nearly every chorus (actually, it MIGHT BE EVERY CHORUS) comprises one words or phrase, usually including the title of the song, repeated.
Looking for something nice to say...hmm...the guitar work is usually pretty good. And, yes, there are some tolerable moments (the sole Sennett-penned tune "Dreamworld," is interesting; the start-a-dance-craze numbers "Moneymaker" and "Smoke Detector" are somewhat fun if you're drunk; "The Angels Hung Around" - even though I'm pretty sure the chorus rips off somebody else's melody - and the title track grace us with some much-needed acoustic guitar and nice melodies). But even these songs would have been easily skipped on More Adventurous. And these unoffensive songs are almost entirely drowned out by the awful (awful!) songs - "15," "Breakin' Up" - the aforementioned disco track - and the lame, cliched "Give a Little Love."
To be completely fair, I respect Jenny Lewis and company for not wanting to make the same album over and over again. Now I just ask that they move - without hesitation (i.e., cancel all tours) - to make some music nothing like this one.
>> Album Lookout: Challengers
After one listen, Challengers leaves New P fanatics a little confused. Could it be that Carl Newman actually made something MEDIOCRE? Could this make August 21st the most disappointing new-release day of 2007?
But Challengers has something that Under the Blacklight doesn't - subtlety. And on nearly every track, repeated listens leave you hooked - just like on previous albums. This time it didn't come as fast.
The Onion put it this way: "If previous New Pornographers albums are the musical equivalent of Jolt Cola, Challengers is the caffeine-free diet version: less sugary, more mature, initially not as invigorating, but ultimately just as addictive."
Exactly. "Unguided," (REMOVED at the request of "Web Sheriff") Newman's attempt at a 6-minute epic, is the perfect example of this (and we're no fans of the 6-minute song, generally speaking).
Honestly, this isn't a 5-star album as each of the first three were. It's probably more of a 4-star. But then again last week I would have said it was a 3.75-star album. You be the judge.>> Reverting to: 1967
It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, so it's time for The Toaster to get his Beach Boys fix. I've had Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE on the mind for the past few weeks as I read the new Brian bio Catch a Wave. And now you can join me!
Here's the stereo version of the SMiLE classic "Heroes and Villains" (single version from Hawthorne, CA).