album reviews

The Elected
Sun, Sun, Sun
Sub Pop (2006)

Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett have more in common than their joint musical project Rilo Kiley and their histories as child actors: Each is devoting the early part of this year to pursuing music outside the Rilo Kiley moniker. While Lewis has been busy with her solo debut, Sennett's side project, the Elected, recently released its second album, "Sun, Sun, Sun."

As its title suggests, the Elected's sophomore output is a collection of bright, shimmering pop songs, capturing more the wistful longing of a summer courtship than a rowdy beach party. Sennett's vocals are direct and personal, as he channels Bright Eyes' earnestness on "It Was Love" and the tenderness of Elliott Smith on the sugary "I'll Be Your Man."

While Sennett's singing might be the Elected's most interesting element (especially for fans of Rilo Kiley, where Lewis handles lead vocals), the band's precisely executed arrangements show that the music is more a group effort than a solo project. The glimmering guitars and backing vocals shake the lyrical sappiness from "Would You Come With Me," while a bouncing piano and saxophone trills turn "Did Me Good" into a jubilant celebration. Even the lush, plaintive singalong choruses of "Not Going Home" feel more like sincere emotions than group melodrama. For Sennett, the growth of his solo voice within another group can only bode well for the Elected's next work -- and for the future of Rilo Kiley.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 19 February 2006, Page N09
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