Musical redheads and deconstructionist dilemmas

If you think of Rilo Kiley as just Jenny Lewis and some guys, check out The Moneymaker. Blake Sennett and Pierre “Duke” de Reeder weave a web of funky riffs while drummer Jason Boesel holds down — and eventually twists around — a solid backbeat.

Sure, Lewis steals the show in the video, even with a few porn stars also in the frame. But the hooks force you to listen again and again.

I worry about Rilo Kiley. Critics seem more impressed with their big-label debut than they were with, say, Liz Phair’s “sellout” album. The comments at YouTube, though, give a hint at the resentment behind their change in sound.

It was unfair with Phair (sorry — that’s an awful rhyme), and it’s unfair here. Some YouTuber actually says this sounds like “the usual conformist christina a./nelly f./britney pop mainstream bull.” If Christina Aguilera ever records something with a bunch of guitar lines as intricate and hook-laden as these, please let me know.

The focus on Lewis also can’t be doing wonders for band chemistry. Spin posits the band as the new Fleetwood Mac and details a few of Lewis’ idiosyncrasies. (Won’t go to Hawaii because it’s bad for her complexion? Eek.)

So Rilo might not be around as long as Tori Amos, who has rediscovered the sassy sense of humor that made Leather and She’s Your Cocaine such fun listens. Some people surely think her new one, Big Wheel, makes a calculated publicity grab with its radio-unfriendly “M-I-L-F” chant. I only worry about the grammar. If you’re referring to yourself, shouldn’t it be, “I’m an M-Y-L-F?”

This is from her new album, American Doll Posse, which has some sort of overarching theme of expressing multiple personalities for some sort of political feminist purpose that would surely go over my head, even as I have a vague recollection of her using the same theme on her occasionally excellent cover album, Strange Little Girls.

If you prefer Tori giving breathtaking four-minute tales of tragedy, check this — a video I just found tonight for one of my longtime favorites, Spark. The video theme but doesn’t literally match the song, a brutally frank retelling of her miscarriage set to a complex rhythm that captures her turbulent emotions, but the mood works. If the hair on your arm doesn’t stand on end for a minute or two, starting around the 2:20 mark, check your pulse. And the stark lyrics give you an even greater appreciation of the fact that Amos later had a healthy baby — if she (or some character she’s playing) wants to call herself an MILF or MYLF, good for her.


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