Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hitting Back

Sheep in world's clothing meets the execution of all things

Rilo Kiley
More Adventurous

Brute/Beaute

See also:
With Arms Outstretched
"Any chimp can play human for a day," More Adventurous begins, and if you think you know which chimp, you're right, and if you think Bush-is-stupid is way off-message by now, you're also right. But Jenny Lewis isn't stupid, so she massages the cliché, as in, "But it's a jungle where war is made/And you'll panic and throw your own shit at the enemy." The chimp turned "sheep in wolf's clothing" gets a 10-line verse, followed by another about suburban smugness that segues self-critically--she's "not buying it," but she'll "try selling it"--into a nine-liner about sorority girls, their fellow Greeks the tragedians, getting paid, writer's block, the "sin when success complains," and seeing what sticks: "Gotta write a hit/I think this is it/It's a hit." Blam--finally, the chorus. The music's been building--marker riff, drum accent, keyb chimes--and here a horn flourish gets us to "And if it's not" before a femme chorus helps her repeat "it's a holiday for a hanging" 4X and cap it off with "shoo-bop shoo-bop my baby." Now what's this? An 11-line verse about . . . executions, and pardons that never come from the man "upstairs." Who was it who got to enter the kingdom of God? Doesn't anyone remember? Chimp becomes sheep-wolf becomes camel.

Depending on your definition, "It's a Hit" may not be a hit. But More Adventurous will top 30,000, and Warners will underwrite a video. Song of the year.

Village Voice, Sept. 7, 2004