In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
It’s been a frustratingly mild December in Chicago, so I’ve been doing what I can to convince myself that global warming hasn’t turned snow into a rare occurrence reserved for one January day every year and/or the gorgeous Christmastime conclusion of The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. That’s meant a lot of time spent revisiting Rilo Kiley’s second LP, The Execution Of All Things. Beyond its lyrical allusions to frozen lakes and Alaskan landscapes, chilly temperatures are hardwired into the album’s songs, which were recorded by a bunch of L.A. musicians temporarily transplanted to Lincoln, Nebraska during the coldest month of 2002. Opening track “The Good That Won’t Come Out” is stuffed with words—a side effect of having the windy likes of Conor Oberst and Cursive’s Tim Kasher hanging around the studio—but there’s a space between the instruments that sets the perfect nocturnal winter scene; I’ve always imagined curlicues of steam accompanying Jenny Lewis’ breathy vocals. Then Jason Boesel’s drums shove the chintzy Casio oom-pah out of the frame, and the whole song opens up like the inky sky of a Midwestern winter’s night, and it feels like December is supposed to feel all over again.