The single advantage of Thanksgiving traffic: Playing all the way through album’s I’d purchased completely legally (and not downloaded or burned) but not listened to yet. The big achievement of the 3.5 hour DC-to-DE haul was the Rilo Kiley Project, during which I listened to every song by the loveable indie overdogs.
The Actual Friend EP (3/10). I can see how they got signed off this – hot singer, two perfectly adorable pop songs (“The Frug” and “Glendora”) but most of it left me cold. Waaay too much amateur shoegazing, too much “let me noodle on these four notes for three minutes, it’ll be hypnotizing”-ing. “Teenage Love Song,” in particular, is a wreck I never want to listen to ever again. Yes, yes, you’re using pre-Beatles teenpop cliches for a fractured story of romance. Have a gold star.
Take Offs and Landings (5/10). More even than the EP. Nothing truly bad, but lots of barely entertaining stuff like “August”. In retrospect, knowing the full-throated songstress she’d become, it’s tough to listen to Lewis in her cutesy phase.
The Execution of All Things (7/10). One of the bigger leaps-forward I’ve ever heard. From the opening snaky guitar figure on “The Good That Won’t Come Out” this worlds more mature, melodically and lyrically, than what I thought the band could do. Obviously the band didn’t write and record the songs in order of how they’d appear on the LP, but the closing two-step of “With Arms Outstretched” and “Spectacular Views” is an eerily perfect preview of how the band’s sound would change as they “sold out.”
More Adventurous (9/10). I loved this record. Fans don’t? Hey, fans are wrong. The giggly experiments are kept to one song (“I Never”) and the pop songsmithery has improved dramatically, by Charly-taking-the-pill proportions. So “Portions for Foxes” is on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack? Fine: It’s an amazing song.
Under the Blacklight (8/10). It falls apart at the end but I don’t grok the loyalist umbrage about this record. They got some money, they got sonically interesting, they started playing with effects. Good for them. Yglesias gets it wrong, I think, about the pop triumphs here. He doesn’t think they exist, and I do. “Under The Blacklight” and “Dreamworld” and “Silver Lining” are all as good as “The Frug” or anything from Lewis’s (really great) solo record.