RIP: Rilo Kiley (1998-2011)

14 Jul

The indie world, as a collective entity, would be undeniably foolish if we said that we didn’t see this coming. Still, Paste Magazine reported earlier today that Rilo Kiley’s looming break-up is finally official, and that’s what hurts.

After being signed to a major label and releasing their fourth album, Under The Blacklight, fans of the infamously dysfunctional band were left with a brilliant rock record that just missed it’s mark.

What it stood for to the band showed. Mirroring lead singer Jenny Lewis and guitarist Blake Sennett’s real life relationship, it was much like the trial separation of a marriage. What resulted was the brilliantly messy Blacklight – an album that has you gritting your teeth, dancing, and cutting tension with a knife all at once. Sadly, each song had it’s own shining moment of glory, but the album as a whole felt sloppy, as though it were being held together with string and duct tape. At times, it’s hard to understand cohesively, and others you’re scratching your head wondering how some of the songs made the cut. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the hell out of the album, but at times it felt as though someone gave me a puzzle where the pieces are all of different images and I can’t get the full picture on the front of the box.

Long story short, Blacklight proved that they still had the chemistry, but underneath it all, the heart of the band was gone and it left everyone wondering – were they in it for fear of change, or had they seen it as their chance to redeem and solve the band’s issues? I’m willing to bet it was both, and I’d like to think they were also ‘in it for the kids’.

An exclusive interview with Spinner, also released earlier today, Sennett was quoted giving the best explanation possible for the band’s final curtain call.

“I just felt like there was a lot of deception, disloyalty, greed and things I don’t really want to submit myself to,” said Sennett. “I had related that frustration to music but I just thought, ’I’m not going to put myself in that position again,’ so I said, ‘Fuck that, I can’t do this anymore.’”

For now, it’s hard to stomach the loss. What better way to mourn the death of one of indie’s unarguably most prominent and influential bands than making a list of their ten best songs? I can’t think of one. Don’t worry, I didn’t put ‘Does He Love You?’ on it, but if I had, it’d be at the top of the list.

10. Teenage Love Song (Initial Friend, 2nd Pressing)
9. It’s A Hit (More Adventurous)
8. Rest of My Life (Take-Offs and Landings)
7. I Never (More Adventurous)
6. My Slumbering Heart (The Execution of All Things)
5. Always (Take-Offs and Landings)
4. The Angels Hung Around (Under The Blacklight)
3. Portions for Foxes (More Adventurous)
2. Pictures of Success (Take-Offs and Landings)
1. More Adventurous (More Adventurous)

Even with this list, it’s hard to deny that their entire discography is worth acquiring and listening to. I recommend their highly successful (and probably most popular) third album, More Adventurous, as a starting point.

For now, I’m saving up for the plane ticket and entry fee it’ll cost for the reunion show. It’s unlikely, but damn if it isn’t something worth waiting for.

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