Rilo Kiley

Under the Blacklight

3 Stars

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & O & lt;/span & ne thing always used to happen like clockwork on a Rilo Kiley record: there would be a point at which all the impotent rage behind the cutesy pop would suddenly burst forth. Jenny Lewis would stop being sweet and switch to pure guttural emotion, and Blake Sennett would step on his '80s-guitar-solo pedal and go to town. It was a lovely thing to behold.

Pity it doesn't happen anywhere on Under the Blacklight, the band's fourth album and the one on which they finally decide to be a pop band instead of a rock band. Traces of folksy country remain, but added to the mix are funk, soul, and '80s Casio balladry. This is a surprising move for a band that's just jumped to a major label - they've actually gotten quieter. They've lost some energy, too; maybe getting a little soft is a natural part of a band's evolution.


DOWNLOAD: "Smoke Detector"

Tegan and Sara

The Con

3 Stars

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he follow-up album is a beast in its own right. The challenge of recreating the popular success of previous efforts without essentially regurgitating the former tempts artists to wander into the ridiculous, often with equally ridiculous results. Experimentation for the sake of experimentation is admirable, but foolish if the songs do not possess transcendent qualities that justify the effort.

The Con is a record of more maturity and vision. Death Cab fans will immediately notice Chris Walla's deft stamp. As co-producer, he helps create pop gold. "Back in Your Head" and "The Con" flow along the familiar avenues of synth-driven contemplations of love lost and the melancholic joys found therein.

If a complaint must be registered, the glossy sheen of the entirety sucks a great deal of life out of the songs. But that is music today, folks. At least the surface does not completely diminish the substance.


Download: "Back in Your Head"

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