Tag Archives: Rilo Kiley

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!

17: More Adventurous (Rilo Kiley)

Album: More Adventurous
Artist: Rilo Kiley
Year: 2004

1. It’s a Hit
2. Does He Love You?
3. Portions for Foxes
4. Ripchord
5. I Never
6. The Absence of God
7. Accidntel Deth
8. More Adventurous
9. Love and War
10. A Man/Me/Then Jim
11. It Just Is

Rilo Kiley gained some popularity after this album though it was several years before I noticed. It received critical acclaim as well, with one publication naming this the fifth best album of 2004 and another naming It’s a Hit the best song of the decade. As you can see, I love It’s a Hit, but for me it’s not even the best song on the album, though perhaps I would place it second. It’s some of Lewis’s best writing, a great take on criticizing authority figures and the music industry.

Does He Love You? took me a while to warm up to, but I’m more impressed with it upon each listen. While fairly straightforward about adultery, the desperation in Lewis’s voice is palpable and the music fits the mood perfectly. Then we get their biggest hit probably ever, Portions for Foxes. I could sing “Baby I’m bad news!” over and over again.

Ripchord is sung by Blake Sennett. It’s fine, but I’ve never cared for Blake’s voice though he obviously knows how to make good music. I Never is the only true dud for me. While I don’t mind Lewis singing “I Never” 20 times in a row once, hearing the chorus three times really overwhelms me.

The Absence of God is my third favorite song by the band; Lewis has an amazing ability to go from low to high near effortlessly. Accidntel Deth, in addition to having an obnoxious title, is pretty underwhelming musically.

The album then turns it on again with the title track.  Love and War is okay, then we have one of the saddest songs ever in A Man/Me/Then Jim, about a suicide and told in what I think is in reverse order from three different people.  It Just Is is a pretty decent ending, a short song with not much meat but a really pleasant melody.