After 6 years of no Rilo Kiley, I had given up on ever hearing anything new from them again. While not all of rkives is brand spankin' "new" exactly, it's still a lovely treat for my ears that I welcomed with open arms. A collection of rarities and B-sides, the 16-song album has pretty much everything a Rilo Kiley fan could as for. The three leading tracks are strong, beginning with "Let Me Back In," a break-up-turned-love-song that lets Jenny Lewis' voice soar beautifully. The chorus is a praise of thanks, as she sings, "When the palm trees bow their heads/ No matter how cruel I've been/ L.A., you always let me back in." Next up is the road-trip-ready "It'll Get You There," which builds into a crash of drums and distorted guitar. "Runnin' Around" might seem a bit out of place for most RK lovers. While the lyrical content seems to fit in better with Lewis' solo projects (story of a cheating husband and his unknowing wife), the rest of the track is louder than we're accustomed to. Yet somehow it still works with Jenny's country twang.
“Well, You Left” sounds like it could have been a discarded More Adventurous track, with Blake Sennett’s leading vocals and bitterly relatable lines. Sennett deals with those feelings you have when someone dumps you for someone else and sums it up well with “But if the weather gets bad, and you feel yourself fall through/ I’ll try not to feel satisfied, I’ll try to do what healthy people do/ I’ll wish the best for you.”
Some of you may have already heard “Draggin’ Around,” which borrows lyrics from Under the Blacklight’s “Breakin’ Up” but puts them in a slower, gloomier frame. Another odd, but super addictive rarity is “A Town Called Luckey,” a depressingly revealing diary entry about experiencing a mid-life crisis at age 30. It gets more intense than Rilo Kiley ever has when the rest of the band joins Lewis in a scream of, “A storm cloud! A hurricane! If you will!”
One extremely strange moment in the record is the Zondo remix of “Dejalo,” an already-weak song from “Under the Blacklight.” The remix features L.A. rapper, Too Short, who sadly brings nothing to improve this part of the collection.
rkives also includes a demo version of the quiet, yet heartbreakingly catchy “Rest of My Life,” which features Sennett’s more lo-fi vocals telling an ex, “For the rest of my life, I’m gonna search for someone just like you.” Last but not least, what Rilo Kiley collection would be complete without “The Frug”? Full of claps and sparse guitar-strumming, we get some of Lewis’ most poignant lyrics on this one. She tells an unrequited love, “I can hate your girl/ I can tell you that she’s real pretty/ I can take my clothes off/ I cannot fall in love.” A perfect way to end this awesome, somewhat unexpected album. Thanks for another record I can play on repeat, RK. Now if only you’d just reunite permanently...