Album review: RILO KILEY – Rkives


After a couple of lesser known albums LA indie rockers Rilo Kiley’s ‘More Adventurous’ album (2004) provided the springboard for a major record deal with Warners.  Their subsequent 2007 release ‘Under The Blacklight’ looked like the big time had finally arrived.  And then they imploded.  Perhaps quirky bands like Rilo Kiley simply aren’t built for commercial exploitation?

Whatever, fans will be delighted with this 17 track retrospective that pulls together nine previously unreleased numbers, a variety of demos, b-sides and previously hard to find tracks.  And while some such collections come warts and all, Rkives is easily as good as any of their previous releases.

Central, of course, to the Rilo Kiley sound are the wonderful vocals of Jenny Lewis – all things to all men – an angel, a temptress, a modern day Debbie Harry.  And many moments bring Blondie to mind as they might have sounded had they started out in the late 1990s.  Edgy, original, and bursting with ideas.

Rilo Kiley were a band who exuded effortless cool and offered a mouth-watering palette of Americana roots – blues, country, and gospel with a 21st century slant.  Capable of taking any genre, absorbing it, twisting it, shaping it and delivering it as something totally original was, simply, a gift.

Jenny Lewis’s post Rilo work has been impressive, but with Blake Sennet, Jason Boesel, and Pierre de Reeder, there was a chemistry that was inspired – an eclectic amalgam of influences regurgitated with a rare beauty.

Bold, understated, bombastic and intimate, tragic and triumphant.  Rilo Kiley RIP.   ****

Review by Pete Whalley

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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.

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