November 15, 2002

Test Spin: Rilo Kiley

Print More

Rilo Kiley is fronted by two mostly unknown once child actors that appeared on shows like Boy Meets World and Growing Pains. Why is that relevant? Well, if nothing else, Rilo Kiley provide a more preferable result of Hollywood corruption and exploitation than, say, those Mickey Mouse Club alumni that offer little beside their belly buttons. These folks sound so embittered by their sleazy L.A. hometown on their sophomore breakthrough that the cynical, melancholy lyrics actually carry some weight, so much so that the opening line of “The Good That Won’t Come Out” — “Let’s get together and talk about the modern age” — doesn’t even sound twee. And when the same song emerges from the first three minutes of sparse, cheap-drum-machine-backed lo-fidelity into the grand orchestral final chorus, replete with bells and saxophone, it doesn’t sound overdone.

Credit is also due to singer Jenny Lewis (she of Golden Girls fame). The false innocence implied by her gently girlish voice always sounds on the verge of breakdown. When Lewis sings “I’m not going back to the assholes that made me, and the perfect display of random acts of hopelessness” on the fantastically poppy “Paint’s Peeling,” the word “asshole” is more powerful than any curse that is bleeped out from those Top 40 pottymouths.

The title-track introduces some thrift store electronics alongside Slash-style guitar lines (I think of “Sweet Child of Mine” for some reason) and a bubbly synth. It is here that the skillful arrangements of Lewis and singer/guitarist Blake Sennett (he of Boy Meets World fame) comes to full fruition. Sennett steps up to the mic on “So Long” and “Three Hopeful Thoughts,” making for a nice change of pace with the twangy, sun-baked pop