Under Review: Jenny And Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now

Romantic relationships between band members have always posed sticky situations.  On one end of the spectrum, there are couples like Thurston and Kim of Sonic Youth and Kori and Jason of Mates Of State, whose marital bonds lend an intriguing dynamic to their music, intentional or not.  On the other end are bands like Fleetwood Mac and The White Stripes, whose key members’ well-publicized fallouts gave each song a heart-tugging tension.  Former (?) Rilo Kiley lead singer Jenny Lewis has been working with her boyfriend, Jonathan Rice, for a number of years, but I’m Having Fun Now is their first full-on, album length collaboration.  As a band, Jenny And Johnny thrive on cutesy affectionate posturing, more so than memorable songs.  The album is a mercifully brief collection of vaguely folky pop songs that further support the belief that Jenny needs to get back with Rilo Kiley and soon.  When Rice and Lewis share the spotlight, as they do on “Animal” and “Scissor Runner,” their wallpaper harmonies recall Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs’ unremarkable Under The Covers Vol. 2.  Rice’s and Lewis’ individual moments aren’t much better, as Rice tends to be overpowering (“Committed”) and Lewis tends to phone in all of her solos (“While Men Are Dreaming”).

Since Rabbit Fur Coat, Jenny Lewis’ songwriting has taken a hard plunge, making Under The Blacklight and Acid Tongue two of her most unimpressive releases.  But even those albums found Lewis sounding like she was enjoying herself (well, maybe only half of Acid Tongue), while on I’m Having Fun Now, she just sounds bored.  The only song from this set that would have been worthy of a Rilo Kiley album is “Big Wave,” which is unfortunately relegated to this inevitably temporary venture.  That’s the other thing about musical relationships crossing with personal ones: when the romance goes south, so goes the band.  Though I would hate for anyone to break up with their loved one, I think that Jenny and Johnny, professionally speaking, should start seeing other people.

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~ by E. on August 30, 2010.

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