Friday, July 06, 2007

Rilo Kiley's "The Moneymaker"

I've liked Rilo Kiley for a while, "Plane Crash in C" is one of the best songs of the decade, and their whole last album is very strong, particularly the aching, gorgeous, "Does He Love You." That album's country flavor was taken to the extreme on Jenny Lewis's solo album, the solid, but not exceptional Rabbit Fur Coat. I like that album, but I was eager to see what would happen when she got back together with Rilo Kiley. I was not at all expecting what they delivered from the first single, "The Moneymaker."

The video for the song begins with nine minutes of interviews with various porn stars, then segues into a nasty funk bassline, and snaps into motion as Jenny appears on screen. First, I'll talk about the song, then the video. The song is a radical departure from their previous work, embracing a sleazy, funk vibe for something that sounds like an 00s version of a 70s exploitation movie. The song is structured on a really catchy, descending riff that seems to be played on the same instrument that gave "Superstitious" its phenomenal bassline. This riff segues into a stomping chorus that quickly subsides back to the funk riff.

The song works because of its atmosphere, the vocals and instruments all feel semi-robotic, capturing the mechanical emotion of porn. They're playing at being sexy with the song, and it works well. This is echoed in the video, which calls back to the porno chic of the 70s. The closest video to this one in stylistic terms if Fiona Apple's "Criminal," which featured an almost oppressively sleazy 70s vibe. That one felt like you were on the set of the porno, this one feels like you're in the world of the porn, and that's a critical difference. The Fiona video gave you the feeling that she was being exploited, but here, they're all into it.

The video is actually quite similar to "Portions for Foxes," which featured the band in a taxidermy shop. Here, we've got the band in a porn set, surrounded by dazed looking porn actors. These scenes are ok, but the insert shots are really well done. I love the shot of Jenny flanked by two inanimate porn queens, and the 70s style overlay of the two women singing backup vocals. I also really like the overhead shots of the porn actors. But, the high point is the shot of Jenny in a black void, lit from above. It's the kind of image I absolutely love, a really striking use of light to create a strong tableau. It echoes UFO abduction imagery, but also taps a kind of spiritual place.

I love the way this video enhances the vibe of the song. Listening to this on the record I would probably think of it as a slightly sleazy funk song, now it's a full on dispatch from porn world. The video makes the song better, and that's what the goal of every video should be. It's a bold choice for the first single, but I love it and hope the rest of this album is as inventive and adventurous. Perhaps Rilo Kiley will have a Belle and Sebastian like late period reinvention, moving from a band that does one type of song to one that mixes all kinds of genres and styles together, all the while keeping a singular voice. I can't wait for this album.

1 comment:

B. said...

Great analysis. I agree with every word that has been written here.

I'm so glad I stumbled onto this blog...