Astute listeners with ears to the ground have called Rilo Kiley one of the best new American bands. The group's reputation is ever-growing. Music journalists, having dragged their sprezzatura out to analyze the Breeders, Superchunk, or Weezer, have been known to skip all the way home to write reviews that gush like adolescent love letters. Even the New York Times has fallen in line, pronouncing The Execution of All Things, the quartet's sophomore full-length release, one of 2002's best. The record's 11 tracks play out like the diary of an optimistic '50s pop star whose music has been deflowered by electric guitars and synthesizers.
"Let's get together and talk about the modern age," opens front woman Jenny Lewis on "The Good That Won't Come Out." Lewis' self-consciousness becomes defeatism and guilt by mid-album, but then she rouses herself with stellar rock gems that should be heartening to those who find strength in anger. By the last song, the subtly twangy "Spectacular Views," Lewis is praising the beauty of the coast while wondering if it isn't too late to be happy.