Considering Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis' solo and side-project distractions following 2004's underwhelming More Adventurous—especially the latter's well-crafted, well-received Rabbit Fur Coat—it seemed entirely possible that the world had heard the last of Rilo Kiley. But with Under The Blacklight, the L.A. quartet has returned with an album that's teeming with creatively executed ideas, to the point where it almost feels like the band was just using its first three albums to warm up.
Under The Blacklight finds Rilo Kiley tossing out its old indie-rock playbook and exploring a wide range of sounds, from Fleetwood Mac's soft rock on the Sennett-sung "Dreamworld" to Heart's tough-chick rock on "The Moneymaker" to what can only be described as the '07 version of LL Cool J's "I Need Love" on "Give A Little Love." There's also a little disco thrown into "Breakin' Up," which gets triumphant during the chorus with the assistance of soulful backup singers. (Recently heartbroken ladies, your summer soundtrack has arrived.) It's all a bit disorienting at first, but repeated exposure proves that behind the stylistic hopscotch is a pile of extremely well-written songs. The lyrics—which touch on everything from paid sex to underage sex to the aforementioned breakup—aren't as strong as the ones on The Execution Of All Things, but the whole package makes for one of this year's most compelling albums.