There's really only ever been two albums that I've listened too and pretty immediatly thought, "You know, I wanna take this album and make it into a movie," because the album told such a story that it just felt like it was begging to be told on the big screen. The first was Tori Amos' Boys for Pele and the second was Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell.
And before you ask, yes, I do realize that none of this makes me cool.
There is now a third to throw in the mix. Rilo Kiley's new album, Under the Blacklight, which has been out for about a month now, and the band is currently touring in support of. I caught them last night at the Palladium.
First of all, to make the most generic and obvious point along with anyone else who talks about the band these days: Jenny Lewis is a star. There's no doubt about it, she is the centerpoint of the stage... and that almost seems like a point that the band has willingly conceeded. She is growing bigger than the band is, but everyone sorta seems ok with that. The Fleetwood Mac comparisons don't seem to apply to Rilo Kiley, mostly because EVERYONE is doing their own stuff outside of the band.
Onto the show. There's an affectation about Rilo Kiley that could almost border on pretention, but that sorta works for the band. Jenny Lewis and lead guitarist and co-songwriter Blake Stennet were child actors (I remember Jenny from the late '80's Nintendo marketing movie with Fred Savage called The Wizard) and there are times when that history seems to show up in the stage show. It's almost as if, at one point in their lives, they said, "Sure... You want us to be cute... we'll be the cute."
So they have a faux-smarminess about their music that serves as counterpoint to some of their lyrics. Take, for instance, on of my favorite moments of the evening when Jenny lead the entire crowd to wave their hands back and forth to the skippy country tune, "15." She smiled and bounced while singing, "He was deep like a graveyard / She was ripe as a peach / And how could he have known / She was only fifteen."
Or the lyric from the song "Paint's Peeling" from their older (and my favorite) album, The Execution of All Things (which they played quite a few songs from, including leading the crowd in a sing-along to Arms Outstretched): " I’m not going back to the assholes that made me / And the perfect display of random acts of hopelessness / I wish I could stay here but I think we’re all ready / I think we’re all ready…."
Then there's Blake. They took moments in the show to highlight him on lead vocals, with the song off the new release Dreamworld or the old standard Ripchord (consisting of just Blake and a ukulele). I've always thought that Blake sounded a bit too Elliot Smith on the albums. That's fine, but he doesn't stand out.
He's an odd cat. Imagine if Crispin Glover had a band. His guitar is inventive, however, and is really what gives the band its indie credibility. While Jenny provides the star power, his guitar provides the raw and unproduced (at times almost punk) sound which serves as a great balancing act.
It was a really good set. I'm not going to say that Rilo Kiley rocked it (although there were moments), but mostly it was one of those shows that everyone felt really good when they left, they provided some real and original moments that you know another band couldn't have pulled off. It is pretty clear that this is a band who's arrow is pointing up, and are fixing to get much bigger. Well, at least Jenny is, and the rest of the band will come along for the ride.
You sort of get the feeling that they are ok with that.