Album of the Week: Rilo Kiley – Take Offs and Landings

Released July 31st, 2001

It’s kind of terrifying and beautiful being a music fan. The nature of music means that you can’t listen to everything, it’s just not possible. This teases the frustrating possibility that your favourite band are already out there, you just haven’t heard them yet. The beautiful part is when you do discover a band that have been there all along, quietly putting out brilliant music and patiently waiting for you to catch up.

Back in February 2016 I interviewed George Waite of Sheffield heroes The Crookes. At the end of the interview I asked him who his dream collaborator would be and he said Jenny Lewis, formerly of Rilo Kiley and currently a solo star in her own right. I had heard of Rilo Kiley because of their association with Saddle Creek Records (home of Bright Eyes) but I couldn’t have named you a song of theirs even with a gun to my head. Luckily, that quite unique scenario has never happened.

Almost a year later to the day of that interview and the LA four piece have become a constant presence on my iPod. For this weeks album of the week, I have chosen Rilo Kiley’s second album Take Offs and Landings. The eagle eyed among you may have realized that I have once again chosen an album that is over 15 years old. Give me a break. I sigh every time I sit down, I can’t function without 8 hours sleep, I sometimes walk into rooms and forget why I am there. I will be 30 in just over two months, current music trends are as alien to me as dabbing and (insert modern cultural phenomenon here).

Take Offs and Landings is unique in as much as it features the most songs sung by Blake Sennett, guitarist and co-songwriter (with Lewis). While the songs sung by Lewis are the highpoint, giving Sennett more to do makes for a more eclectic and rich listening experience than some of the bands later albums. The albums starts with the bitchy, acoustic track ‘Go Ahead’ and the snarky humour inherent in that song runs through the album like a signpost to jerkoffs. ‘Science vs Romance’ is a stunning song that ebbs and flows around Lewis’ enchanting vocals and serves as a nice companion piece to ‘Plane Crash in C’. These are the albums best moments but there isn’t a duff track in sight.

I mentioned Saddle Creek Records earlier and Bright Eyes is an obvious influence on this album but Lewis and Sennett are such strong personalities that any lingering comparisons are quickly forgotten. Sennett’s best moments are the sweeping ballad ‘Rest of my Life’ and the secret song ‘Salute MY Shorts’. The latter features a lyric that sums up Rilo Kiley’s philosophy perfectly:

‘Everyone fucks up, it’s gonna be OK’.

I’ll take that message right now.

Track of the week: Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman AKA Father John Misty released one of the best albums of the last decade with 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear so his new album Pure Comedy will be one of 2017’s most anticipated releases when it drops in April.

This title track is an epic ballad straight out of the Elton John songbook. ‘Pure Comedy’ may not be as immediately arresting as ‘The Ideal Husband’ or ‘Bored In The USA’ but it gets under the skin and surely heralds the continuation of a remarkable career. The beautifully penned crescendo is both lyrically and musically exquisite and if the rest of the album is as good, we could be in for something truly special.

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