Rilo Kiley

Restless For Adventure

Music Features Rilo Kiley
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Rilo Kiley’s Execution of All Things (2002) was an album to make you pinch yourself: how on earth did they make country-inflected confessional indie rock so fresh? On its follow-up More Adventurous, they sound more confident than ever, channeling everyone from Tammy Wynette to pre-sellout Liz Phair, while establishing singer Jenny Lewis as one of the best voices in indie rock, an emo-fied Alison Krauss.

“I think we wanted to make a different record, and I think we allowed ourselves to embrace the genres that we love and that inspire us,” says Lewis.

Relentless touring in the wake of Execution’s success helped build that fearlessness, as did side projects — Lewis’ work with The Postal Service, and guitarist/co-writer Blake Sennett’s with The Elected. “It made us all appreciate each other a little more, made us a little more open to ideas coming from the other people in the band,” says Lewis. Jumpiness was another factor: “We get tired of one thing. We’re fickle, like we’re kids with ADD.”

The album moves easily from anti-Bush power pop (“It’s a Hit”) to New Wave-y relationship angst (“Portions for Foxes”) and Nashville showiness (“I Never”) to literate balladry (“The Absence of God”). “We spent about six weeks in the studio and then we took a break because we were exhausted. We didn’t know what to do, we were too close to it to understand what’s going on,” said Lewis. “Blake and I went on an acoustic tour, then came back to Nebraska and finished the mixing. We’d never done that before. It was quite scary, but we were pleasantly surprised,” she says. “It was not only fun, but you could hear the words, hear the stories.”

During acoustic shows they refined the album’s title track, an ineffably sweet ballad with the kind of blunt chorus (“Let me be loved!”) that seems to be Lewis’ specialty (see the last album’s “With Arms Outstretched” and “Spectacular Views”). “We played it every night on the tour, and that helped us define the more broken song arrangement.”

Other changes for the band include the ending of their tenure with Saddle Creek Records. “It just sort of came about that we needed to try to start our own label and find major-label distribution,” says Lewis. “Rilo Kiley is something that we’ve been committed to for almost 10 years; it’s our child. Blake and I used to go out and this is our baby … and it’s a brat!”