Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rilo Kiley

Under the Blacklight (2007)


It's been three years and three side projects, but Rilo Kiley have finally prepared their fourth studio album. The record is their major label debut for Warner Brothers, although More Adventurous was picked up after its release. Under the Blacklight is a minor departure from the sound they formed on their previous releases. There is a healthy influence from the time front-woman Jenny Lewis spent with her Watson girls ("Under the Blacklight" and "Angels Hung Around") and time spent with the Postal Service ("Breakin' Up" and "Dejalo") as well as a resounding maturation from all aspects.

Opening track "Silver Lining" showcases the band with a more polished and crisp sound as its subtle clapping beat carries on. Lewis is calling for the spotlight as she grows as a woman and throughout this record you hear a more mature vocalist. I really enjoy the charm showcased on "Close Call," especially the quirk in Lewis' voice in the beginning, but the chorus is awkward and flat. Out the door is the shy little girl that charmed our ears and hearts; she has been replaced by a modern woman with a thunderous voice that pays debt to classic female artists (think something along the lines of a softer, cuter, accented Amy Winehouse). The aforementioned qualities are overly apparent on the sexual "Smoke Detector" and "15"'s abused innocence.

The album's first single, "The Moneymaker" thuds with toe-tapping drums during the verses and catchy "ah"s aid in rendering the song memorable. Musically, the band has grown too, the songs sounding robust with instrumentation, even when the band chooses to let the songs air out, finding their own identity -- the Blake Sennet-led "Dreamworld" is a pristine example. The guitars have a lot of charisma to them even if they're not reaching their full potential. Closing track "Give a Little Love" relies on too many of the tendencies that the previous ten utilize, a decent quality for a conclusion, but it's not quite as effective as it could be.

Under the Blacklight shies away from a lot of the movements that elevated Rilo Kiley this high, generally aiming to play it safe rather than take risks. Although the songs may not be as impressive as they once were, the band has still has the ability to write a decent album.