I was surprised to see that this album was not yet reviewed on this site; I had assumed that one would be posted the day of Rilo Kiley’s release for More Adventurous. Well, better late than never, because this album is one that deserves a review simply because it was just so difficult to write one for.
We all have heard of Jenny Lewis before. She’s that token girl that sings in a band with a really cute sounding voice that makes boys melt and makes girls want to be her. What sets her apart from the rest of the pack is the fact that she actually has an amazing voice and can belt out one hell of a tune, contrary to some girl-fronted bands that can just sound cute and stop there, with no real backbone to their voice. Lewis is in the upper echelon of female vocalists; unfortunately, this is also More Adventurous’s main, almost unforgivable flaw.
There’s just too much Jenny Lewis on here. On this album, I feel like the rest of the band and their music has taken a back seat to the fact that Lewis is a cute girl, can sing well, and will set them apart from the rest of the industry. Yes, she sings great, but what of the excellent music found on past efforts? Songs like “Pictures Of Success” (a song the band has yet to top) and “With Arms Outstretched” found that band in a musically sound state: the entire band sounded fantastic, and it was a package deal. More Adventurous is all about Lewis, and chock-full of girl-power. It’s not a bad thing per se, but once exceptional music is sacrificed to bring it to the limelight, we’ve got a problem. Granted, some songs on here do pretty much rock out; “Portions For Foxes,” “It’s A Hit,” and “Love And War 11/11/46” all sound like a group effort. Some songs, however, make me feel like I’m not listening to Rilo Kiley. Some songs make me feel like I’m not even listening to good music.
Let’s start with the abomination that is “I Never:” you’ve got Jenny wailing away up front, with a terribly lame-sounding 60’s pop hook moping around behind her. Sounds original, right? This is not the case; it’s pulled off terribly. It’s just flat out boring. Jenny Lewis is talented, but she cannot carry this band by herself. It almost sounds as if the band isn’t even trying to be noticeable or an integral part of the music. There are also tracks that are just asking to be skipped, like the dull closer “It Just Is” and the fourth track “Ripchord,” which leaves the listener wondering “What the hell?” as guitarist Blake Sennett (yes, "Salute Your Shorts," we know) “sings” over lo-fi guitar plucking and whistles, making some cringe-worthy moan/caw noise as well. It’s terribly unnerving to listen to these songs; it’s simply an ultimate disappointment to listen More Adventurous all the way through. Even the better songs like “Accidental Death,” complete with blips and bloops á la Jenny’s stint with the Postal Service and the acoustic-tinged “The Absence Of God” come up short when compared to the band’s back catalog.
I must point out the band’s excellent lyrics though: Lewis can write a tune, as well as sing one. The lyrics to “Does He Love You?” are messed up and almost downright pathetic, but you can’t help but be wowed at the songwriting. It’s masterful. Save the throwaway blatant attack at President Bush in “It’s A Hit” and you’ve got yourself a very well-written album on your hands.
To put it plain and simple, More Adventurous is a huge disappointment. The band has their priorities mixed up, and has almost forgotten how to make enjoyable music; a lot of the stuff found on here is basically not enjoyable. Musical change is subjective; many will appreciate it, and many will hate it. There is no pleasing everyone, and Rilo Kiley have sure made it clear with More Adventurous.
“Does He Love You?”
“Portions For Foxes”
“The Absence Of God”