Browse through the music section of your local Borders magazine rack and you’re bound to see the faces of Rilo Kiley hamming up more covers than Eva Longoria. Their anticipated fourth full length, Under the Blacklight comes at an awkward time for the band. Frontwoman Jenny Lewis has elevated her pop-star status, as her solo debut Rabbit Fur Coat was hailed as one of 2006’s best, while guitarist Blake Sennett keeps things interesting with his on again off again band The Elected. So does Lewis, a Gwen Stefani in the making, need Rilo Kiley at this time? No, but with Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley takes a turn at radio friendly pop and distancing themselves from the roots flavor of 2004’s More Adventurous.
Lewis rubs her red headed sex appeal all over Blacklight, most suggestively on “The Moneymaker,” where she half moans “ah ah ah” among the innuendo filled number: many a male hipster fantasy come true. Blacklight is deep in radio friendly cuts that include the Lily Allenish “Breakin Up,” straight forward dance beats of “Dejalo” and the pop trash of “Dreamworld.” For purists, catchy little numbers like these are a goodbye kiss to one’s inclusion in the “indie-hip” sector, as Rilo Kiley now stands alongside the No Doubts and Plain White T’s.
There are a few strong keepers that include the dreamy title track,” the countryish “The Angels Hung Around” and the twangy opener “Silver Lining,” showing that Rilo Kiley hasn’t lost it all together. Under the Blacklight is fun and catchy, yet for a band renowned for intricate songcraft and interesting melodies, they have transformed themselves as unoriginal and contrived.