THE EXECUTION OF ALL THINGS
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We used to think that LA had nothing to offer us musically. We spent our days wishing we had been born in D.C. Or Chicago. Or even some small town in the Pacific Northwest. That is, until Rilo Kiley came along. With their soft guitars, nearly naked production, and Jenny Lewis' bitter and ironic—she sings ironically! Really, she does!—vocals, the band became LA's best kept secret with their 2001 release, Take Offs and Landings. On their new follow-up album, The Execution of All Things, they attempt to expand their sound far beyond the bedroom four-track and—for the most part—succeed. Lead track "The Good That Won't Come Out" (evidently the lush long-lost cousin of Grandaddy's "He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot") launches a fuzzed-out aural invasion that sets in at around 3:40. Halfway through the album, however, the band makes an ill-fated attempt at a quirk-pop Pavement sound—or Reinhold Messner-era Ben Folds; we can't decide—and rapidly loses focus, drifting uneasily between indie rock and country, making the occasional stop at Saddle Creek. This confused formula works—briefly—on "Hail to Whatever You Found in the Sunlight that Surrounds You," with the distorted riffs and drum kit loops from the first half of the album replaced by a haunting pedal steel chorus that flirts in the background with a two-step tempo. By the time the band launches into their entirely too-emo final track, you're hearing the fading traces of a good album that could be excellent. Rilo Kiley would do well to sonically return to LA, ditching Saddle Creek and Omaha for overpriced drinks at smoke-free '80s clubs. Until then, we'll just listen to our version of Execution—tracks one through four, seven and 10—on our way up the 5.