General 11-19-2004

More Adventurous

A review of Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous released by Brute/Beaute Records / Warner


Most people would agree that in this day of “seen it, heard it, wrote about it in my blog” indifference, it’s become increasingly difficult for a band to stand out from the gaggle of Modest-Death-Hives-for-Yeah-Yeah-Mouse-Shins bottlenecking the airwaves of college radio. But rock is rock, right? Isn’t the ultimate goal to make a record that will embarrass your parents and send them into a fit of eye-rolling “you call that music” mode?

The problem I see is that, as younger artists start rock bands, chances are good their parents’ musical tastes teeter on this side of cool. Loud, crude and blunt doesn’t seem quite so shocking when your own parents, at your age, were projectile vomiting in the mosh pit of a Bad Brains show. Maybe the most shocking thing a band can do these days is to write deeply personal, pretty songs that could work as the soundtrack to a musical-chairs game at a child’s birthday party. And the newest offerings from Rilo Kiley and The Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson could both at least be safely played in the background of Junior’s shindig, give or take a little cussing. (There’s something about the words “shit” or “asshole” gently being sung in a breathy female voice that takes the vulgarity to a whole other level.)

More Adventurous, the first major-label-backed album from L.A.-by-way-of-Omaha stalwarts Rilo Kiley, is a pleasing collection of songs from a band that clearly embraces its new wave leanings—not in a cringey, rubber bracelet way, but more of an “I have a stupid haircut but I still know a wicked pop sound when I hear it” kinda thing.

On the album’s gorgeous title track, Jenny Lewis sings “It’s only doubts that we’re counting on fingers broken long ago / I read that with every broken heart we should become more adventurous.” And it’s hard to believe, but this record actually feels adventurous in its safety—skipping out of the gates with “It’s a Hit,” Lewis even throws down a few awkward lyrics comparing the president to a monkey tossing his own poo, but it still could be 2005’s hottest prom theme song. Especially if you’re graduating from dry-cleaning school.

Lots of ground, maybe a little too much, is covered in the remaining ten tracks, with the band shuttling schizophrenically between country-tinged poetry, accessible acoustic ballads and straight-up, pee-your-pants-it’s-so-good pop finery. “Portions for Foxes” is almost reason enough to buy this disc—think of it as a 17-dollar single and don’t look back.

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