Rilo Kiley Under the Blacklight

Rilo Kiley Under the Blacklight

Since the release of their debut album, Take-Offs and Landings, in 2001, Rilo Kiley have made a name for themselves as alt-folk-pop talents from whom to expect big things. Jenny Lewis, the band’s talented front-woman, has become something of an indie darling in her own right, garnering notice for her collaborations with the Postal Service, Cursed and the Watson Twins (the latter of whom provided accompaniment on Lewis’s 2006 album, Rabbit Fur Coat), in addition to her already established screen acting career. That said, you have to wonder whether Rilo Kiley would have achieved their level of success if it weren’t for Lewis’s enchanting voice and personal magnetism (not to mention total babe-itude). Their latest album, Under the Blacklight, suggests not; at least not quite. Lewis’s voice is unwaveringly lovely, effortlessly passionate and silky smooth. It’s that lilting, lullaby voice of hers that just barely enlivens the melodies of Under the Blacklight, which would otherwise be unexceptional and bland. The album is soft and temperate; it’s the sort of alternative country disco pop that would provide a fine soundtrack to a lazy Sunday afternoon spent lounging on the backyard patio. But it lacks the enthusiasm and originality of the group’s previous work, and falls short of showing us what Rilo Kiley are capable of. The tunes have mostly strong foundations but each is underdeveloped and oh so frustratingly close to having "it.” "The Moneymaker” and "Breakin’ Up’” are examples of two such tracks, which, like the album itself, could have been kneaded and cultivated into so much more. (Warner Bros.)