It is easy to pour suspicion on Rilo Kiley’s near perfect layers of adult pop music.
Consider the case for the prosecution: the nouveau hippy LA-isms that permeate, the much documented child star past of Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett, the film star friends and the all-round shininess of the package.
However, their great strength is that, regardless of its background, the music exudes a warmth and radiance where many of their soft rock contemporaries come across as cold and calculating.
This is achieved by songs that are consistently musically multi-faceted and lyrically deep. Sennett’s guitar playing is the bedrock of the sound, but Lewis’s voice augmented by Orenda Fink and Kristin Gundred’s harmonies, is soothing in a Karen Carpenter way, yet adds soaring dynamics to even the less remarkable songs.
Not that there are many which fall into that category. At their most flippant (‘Smoke Detector’) the catchiness verges on irritating, but the opening coupling of ‘Close Call’ and ‘It’s A Hit’ represents the best of their two most recent albums.
The former is typical of the seedy lyrical themes and seventies’ sound of ‘Under The Blacklight,’ the latter closest they come to the type of song that will break them into the mainstream, where their melodies and effortless songwriting craft ought to reside.
Even the few songs from their earliest days that survive – ‘With Arms Outstretched,”Execution of All Things’ and ‘Pictures of Success’ – are peerless pieces of jangly, guitar pop, although the grinding funk that underpins ‘Moneymaker’ and the stripped back version of ‘Under the Blacklight’ show how much they added to their musical palette.
Though this tour appears to have been undersold, Rilo Kiley remain an obviously great band, currently at the peak of their capabilities.