Sitcom casting calls obviously took a toll on former child actress Jenny Lewis.
"Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can’t move/Awake but cannot open my eyes/And the weight is crushing down on my lungs," she sings on "A Better Son/Daughter," a post-traumatic look at familial dysfunction whose lullaby-like simplicity eventually gives way to an unruly Celtic-style romp.
The tune is indicative of the pent-up anxiety and outright aggression that riddles The Execution of All Things, the second release from Rilo Kiley, the California band led by small-screen also-rans Lewis (Mr. Belvedere, Growing Pains) and Blake Sennett (Boy Meets World). The group’s utterly charming merger of angular pop ingenuity, more-folk-than-country shadings and opportunistic instrumentation calls to mind coed indie-rock notables Velocity Girl, Madder Rose and Bettie Serveert. Pedal steel lends a distinctive lilt to "Paint’s Peeling"; French horn, violin and cello add orchestral heft to "Capturing Moods"; vibraphone and flute instill a jazzy playfulness to "Hail to Whatever You Found in the Sunlight That Surrounds You," a pretty little number with a lumbering beast of a title.
Throughout Execution, Lewis’ girlish, unaffected delivery takes the sting out of the obscenities that occasionally litter her rocky confessional landscape. The sharp contrast between poetry and impulse rarely seems gratuitous and is often breathtaking. "Indifferent but distanced, perfectly projected endlessly. It’s so f---ing beautiful," Lewis spews toward the end of the CD.
We’ll have to take her word for it.