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By: Dennis Cook
Some bands hum with the energy of their locale, encapsulating the mood and character of their surroundings in their assemblage of notes. Like X in the '80s and Tom Petty in the '90s, Rilo Kiley are undeniably denizens of Los Angeles, the snarl of freeways and paparazzi nights fueling their increasingly polished pop. Their second major label release, Under The Blacklight (released August 21 on Warner Bros.), shimmers like the Turtle Wax buffed hood of a convertible rolling down Sunset Boulevard on a Summer night. Sounding like Stevie Nicks jamming with Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me-era Cure, almost 10 years into their story the once indie-rock darlings have grown into an unapologetically populist unit that hits a universal vibe with almost unnerving accuracy.
| Rilo Kiley|
"[L.A.] is a world unlike almost any other – orange trees in the desert, so much asphalt and freeways, the proximity to the ocean and mountains," says lead singer Jenny Lewis. "We are an L.A. band in that we tend to write and rehearse in our hometown. This record is the first of ours to be recorded in a studio here in L.A.; so, I guess the ghost of the twelve-string guitar lingers. Also, Jackson Browne plays guitar on a song on Under The Blacklight about Los Angeles."
Dig a bit below the surface of their new album and the sweaty, dangerous, pheromone rich SoCal Guns N' Roses once tapped into so effectively emerges. The video for the first single, "The Moneymaker," starts with a Q & A with actual porn stars before breaking into what looks like a performance in an adult bookstore, featuring said porn stars pawing each other while girlish-voiced Lewis pouts and preens along with the barely legal starlets. Like Steely Dan's late '70s output, Rilo Kiley's latest gets their pinky stinky in some strange places. For example, the oddly compelling statutory ode "15" tells us:
| Jenny Lewis|
She was a tiny woman
He could sense her developing body was just the beginning
She said is anybody out there
She was bruised like a cherry
Ripe as a peach
How could he have known
That she was only fifteen?
Things turn even darker on the title cut, where Lewis confirms the inherent CSI implications. "Things always look different under a blacklight. You might find something that you didn't know was there and that isn't particularly pretty. The song is in part about an abusive relationship that culminates in murder," offers Lewis.
Continue reading for page II...