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Rilo Kiley, ‘RKives’ – Album Review

Rilo Kiley Rkives
Little Record Company

Back when Rilo Kiley (RIP 1998-2011) were making music, they wanted to be indie-rock’s answer to Fleetwood Mac. They were from Los Angeles. They were fronted by a former couple. And they made a totally awesome breakup record. They may have even snorted mounds of coke off the bass player’s amp at some point. But after five albums, two of them pretty great, they officially split up four years following the release of their last LP.

The B sides and rarities collection ‘RKives’ picks up the pieces of their shattered career. Like the best Rilo Kiley records, the 16-track compilation features a mix of shimmering pop songs, twangy alt-country and tossed-off goofs. And as far as leftovers go, ‘RKives’ makes a fine companion piece to 2004’s ‘More Adventurous’ and 2007’s ‘Under the Blacklight,’ the band’s best albums.

And as with those records, Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley’s Stevie Nicks, contributes most of the songs on ‘RKives.’ Blake Sennett, the band’s Lindsey Buckingham, checks in with a handful. Together, they paint a portrait of a group that thrived and eventually collapsed under the combined weight of its singer-songwriters. Just like Fleetwood Mac.

It’s no accident that songs like ‘I’ll Get You There,’ ‘All the Drugs’ and ‘A Town Called Luckey’ tear at their hearts and at the heart of their crumpling relationship. The dark, despairing themes that underlined much of ‘Under the Blacklight’ resurface on ‘RKives’’ best tracks, disguising tales of heartbreak, addiction and emotional scarring with spectacular indie-pop hooks.

But throwaway songs show up often enough to remind you that ‘RKives’ is a collection of odds and ends. A remix of ‘Under the Blacklight’’s ‘Dejalo’ featuring rapper Too $hort is as insubstantial as it sounds, and the early EP-only track ‘The Frug’ showcases the group’s awkward beginnings. Still, the album’s highlight, ‘Well, You Left,’ puts it all in perspective. A six-minute Sennett song that seethes with the lover’s scorn of ‘Go Your Own Way,’ it even includes a grand guitar solo. It’s ‘Rumours’-worthy and proof that perhaps even Rilo Kiley didn’t appreciate what they had at the time.

7 out of 10 rating

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