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Under The Blacklight
Ahead of their Electric Picnic date, the LA rockers ditch their mainstream sheen on their fourth album.
Adrienne Murphy, 23 Aug 2007
Under The Blacklight is the fourth album from the LA-based foursome Rilo Kiley. The slightly garish, end-of-the-nightclub, mascara-streaked, eye-contact-avoiding portrait photos on the CD artwork evoke the darker side of love and the seedier aspects of lust – appropriately enough, in that this is the milieu the record explores. One picture, depicting an elderly woman in black lace placing what appears to be a brain in a jar of formaldehyde on the bar, adds a touch of the surreal and resonates well with the music, which sheds its mainstream gloss, once a few listens have let the spikes of weirdness through.
Penned mainly by chief vocalist Jenny Lewis – whose gorgeously bittersweet voice has drawn Fleetwood Mac comparisons – the songs on Under The Blacklight are unusually diverse. The first half of the album is particularly strong, with a lovely country feel coming through Lewis’s rich, sure vocals.
The chorus of the title track is hypnotically beautiful, its imagery magical: “Under the black light/Like a black widow I’ll be crawling/Out in the garden/Into the pale moon/Under the black light/Down in the valley/Up in the dark blue...”. ‘Breaking Up’, meanwhile, is unusually upbeat and joyous, its sunny Motown sound the perfect vehicle for a track which actually celebrates break-ups, its chorus repeatedly exclaiming, ‘Ooh, yeah, feels good to be free!’ . Meanwhile, the Cocteau Twins-ish sound of ‘Dreamworld’ also suits its subject matter.
A dip in the quality of the songs in the second half is disappointing, but the momentum is restored by ‘Give A Little Love’, the final track. I’ll be checking Rilo Kiley out, live at The Electric Picnic on September 2nd.