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Rilo Kiley 

More Adventurous (Brute/Beaute)

To borrow the subtitle from Billy Bragg's Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, this is "the difficult third album" for Rilo Kiley. Stakes were high for a follow-up to the unabashed brilliance of 2002's The Execution of All Things; that record matched Jenny Lewis' often blunt, usually evocative vocals with producer Mike Mogis' brand of eclectic and challenging studio magic, resulting in a distinct, energizing song cycle.

With More Adventurous, Rilo Kiley fails to capitalize on the promise of its last record, leaving only pleasant-if-unremarkable pop songs. Lewis' voice is as strong as ever; it's just a shame that it's matched with such standard-issue lyrics. These songs (like most songs) deal with matters of the heart, but the band veers into cliché almost unwittingly, declaring that "all is fair in love and war" and then clumsily attempting to bolster the tired metaphor. Elsewhere, story-songs such as "Does He Love You?" and "A Man/Me/Then Jim" turn out a bit clunky, leaving Lewis to hold the bag while the band provides competent but blasé reinforcement. Gone are the sonic peaks and valleys, the oddball synthesizer explosions and kitchen-sink instrumentation -- the peanut butter is spread thinly over this piece of white bread.

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September 15th, 2021

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