As part of our ongoing Long Play series, opbmusic is playing selections from Rilo Kiley’s album “More Adventurous” all day throughout the broadcast on Tues., May 21.
In 2014, Rilo Kiley was at a creative inflection point. The band, fronted by songwriters (and former child actors) Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett and rounded out by Pierre de Reeder on bass guitar and Jason Boesel on drums, had released a pair of critically acclaimed indie rock records that showcased a knack for bright, genre-shifting guitar work, biting lyrics, and catchy choruses. Their previous release, “The Execution Of All Things,” had also received significant attention by being one of the first national releases from Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records, the small taste-making label that was instrumental in launching the careers of songwriter Conor Oberst and his band Bright Eyes.
Rilo Kiley’s third album, “More Adventurous,” began life as a presumptive Saddle Creek release. The label’s de-facto house producer, Mike Mogis, helmed most of the project (along with contributions from Jimmy Tamborello and Mark Trombino). But creative differences between the label and the band resulted in the album eventually coming out via Rilo Kiley’s own imprint and distributed by Warner Bros., effectively becoming the band’s major label debut.
Whether on purpose or not, with major label status came a major change in the band’s sound. Rilo Kiley abandoned the lo-fi aesthetic that defined their first two records and embraced polished production values and a more expansive palette of instrumentation courtesy of dozens of contributing musicians. The record was also remarkable in that Jenny Lewis was the band’s dominant vocalist. Although Sennet wrote or co-wrote much of the record, Lewis was the featured voice on all but one track.
With those things in mind, some longtime fans were initially skeptical with the release of “More Adventurous.” Reviews were also decidedly mixed at the time. But the album was a commercial success for the band, has since been consistently hailed as one of the best releases of the 2000s, and included some of Rilo Kiley’s most enduring music with standout songs like “It’s A Hit,” “Portions For Foxes” and “More Adventurous.” Tracks from the record were included in numerous film soundtracks, on TV shows, and in the video game Rock Band 3.
The album was also a precursor to the solo career of Jenny Lewis. With the dissolution of Rilo Kiley after their final full-length release in 2007, the singer released a string of well-received albums that serve as a stylistic continuation of the sound that her former band crafted on “More Adventurous.” Her latest release, “On The Line,” came out in March of this year. Jenny Lewis performs in Portland on Wed., May 22 at a sold out Crystal Ballroom.