6: The Initial Friend (Rilo Kiley)

Album: The Initial Friend
Artist: Rilo Kiley
Year: 1999

1. The Frug
2. Papillon
3. Always
4. 85
5. Glendora
6. Teenage Love Song
7. Sword
8. Asshole
9. Gravity

B: Steve
B: Troubadors
B: Annoying Noise of Death

I’m not exactly sure what happened, but Rilo Kiley decided this EP was never quite perfect so they released three different pressings, all with a slightly different song set. Some songs were on all three pressings, some on two, and some just on one. The nine songs listed here are from the second pressing, with the three extra being from the other two.

The Frug is actually what turned me onto the band, ten years after it was released. The next song I heard was Papillon, and I was hooked. They’re still my favorite two songs from the band (indeed, Papillon is a top ten song for me), both very silly but sung with earnestness.  “Oh my god, Blake!” is a fantastically sung line by Jenny.

Amazingly, their debut album just keeps bringing the awesome. Their second album, Take-Offs and Landings, had an updated version of the song Always that is way overproduced. This version is the one you want to listen to. 85 is played with adagio speed but has a consistent rhythm that makes it feel faster than it is.  And then Glendora is a great sing-along about submissiveness and self-hatred.

Teenage Love Song is decent, and then it heats back right up again with the next two songs. They must have been in a classic-movie binge when writing this album as Laurence of Arabia  makes an appearance in Sword (with Papillon being the other mention).  Asshole is sung by the whole group for the most part, and while I don’t really care for Blake’s singing, he does harmonize very well with Jenny.

I thought Gravity was decent at first, but the more I listen to it, the more it grates on me. Like I Never, it’s very repetitive, but Jenny’s voice has this warble I can’t take. As for the rest of the songs, I usually include Steve and Troubadors when I listen to the album.  Steve is one of Blake’s best songs, just him fantasizing about killing his mom’s boyfriend. And Troubadors makes for a much better album ending than Gravity, as it has a simple, fading sound much like It Just Is.  Annoying Noise of Death is just a long gimmick of a hidden track that doesn’t need more than one listen ever.

While More Adventurous is probably a better introduction to the band as it’s better produced, better polished, and is more pop-friendly, The Initial Friend is Rilo Kiley’s masterpiece.

See everyone next week for the final five albums!

6 thoughts on “6: The Initial Friend (Rilo Kiley)”

  1. I want to marry this album. I pretty much have the same views as you on each song. I should mention that there is a pre-Initial Friend demo called “Sandbox Sessions 05/02/98” that has earlier versions of The Frug, Glendora, and a couple new songs that never made it onto any album. My favorite off it is a song called 13, about Jenny growing up and falling in love with different types of people.

  2. I haven’t heard this yet, but long, hidden, intentionally shitty tracks irritate the hell out of me. Some of my favorite discs have those tacked on.

  3. Excited to see this.

    Though “Potions For Foxes” is my favorite Rilo Kiley song, “The Frug/Papillon/Glendora” are all close behind.

  4. Do you actually own this EP on CD? There are two versions of Glendora floating around YouTube, one where the drum part at the end is abruptly cut off, and one where it isn’t. I was never sure which version was on the original CD.

    1. I don’t own it, but I asked one of my friends and this is what he said:

      “The songs ends with someone saying “thank you very much” in the background, and a few last drum beats. This YouTube video ends the
      same way (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRHM6lHaFrU). The only other
      non-live recording of the song I’m aware of is the Sandbox Sessions version, but that version is much more raw-sounding.”

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