in Review

Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

I wrote this a while ago, and then forgot about it due to blog problems/comedian-induced grief.  But anyways…

Jenny Lewis is someone who I’ve probably undervalued over the years.  This might come from the fact that Mildly Pleased contributor Matt Carstens has a mild obsession with her, and for some reason the two of us can never see eye-to-eye on the artists that either of us love.  Also, for many years I wrote off her former band Rilo Kiley as a decent little mid-00’s indie outfit, albeit one that seemed a bit slight compared to a lot of their contemporaries.  However, in the past year or so, I’ve found myself listening to Rilo Kiley quite a bit, and in the process finding myself drawn to Jenny Lewis’s whole vibe.  Because despite her pitch-perfect vocals and status as a manic pixie indie dream girl, I’ve found myself appreciating her most of all as a lyricist, as there’s a biting wit and a dark undercurrent of sorrow that often seems to undercut her innate pop sensibilities.  Luckily, Lewis’ latest solo release The Voyager sees her indulging this particular side of her music, as there’s a definite “aging indie rocker contemplates the meaning of it all” vibe, but with a decent amount of insight and pithiness as well.

To a certain extent, The Voyager falls under a certain category of album I like to refer to as “voidfillers”, meaning that it fills the void of a particular kind of album I liked from the year before, and thus listening to it is an attempt to fill that void.  In this case, The Voyager fills the impression left by last year’s Days Are Gone by Haim, as it has that same sort of pristine pop vibe while feeling like a distinct product of Southern California.  Unsurprisingly, Jenny Lewis here often has the heir of an older, wiser version of the girls of Haim, as she similarly rode a wave of hype earlier in her career, and still seems to be figuring shit out.  The album most of all finds Lewis reflecting on the fact that relationships don’t get any easier the older you get, but she does it in a way that’s still pretty consistently infectious.  Granted, I’d be lying if said I wasn’t predisposed to liking the more upbeat power-pop leaning numbers like “Aloha & The Three Johns” and “Love U Forever”, which come later in the album.  But I think for the most part The Voyager sees Lewis staying true to her country and AM pop influences, which often makes for very pleasant music to put on in the background of your late summer evenings.

So maybe I’m undervaluing Jenny Lewis once again by saying that I’ve been listening to The Voyager just to scratch that Haim itch that I need so badly.  Also, I don’t know how much I’ll continue listening to this album now that the new Spoon release is out, which has sufficiently been distracting me with its awesomeness so far.  But the fact of the matter is, The Voyager is a perfect album for this time of year, as it heartily embodies the lazy days of August, while pointing the way for the cold realities of autumn.  Also, I guess I have this album to thank for pointing out that famous dudes dressing up in drag is kinda played out, but famous actresses doing it in a music video is almost unbearably adorable.  So thanks for that, Jenny.

Favorite Tracks: “Head Underwater”, “The New You”, “Love U Forever”