The Star – 30 March 2006

Sad lyrics and happy music.

The Elected, fronted by Rilo Kiley guitarist and backing singer Blake Sennett, is the second spinoff of the popular Los Angeles rock outfit to arrive here this March. The quartet’s set tonight at the Horseshoe falls two weeks to the day after Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis performed with backing vocalists the Watson Twins at the Opera House.

“We’re not exactly following each other around,” says Sennett, talking on a cellphone as the tour van negotiates the streets of Boston. “It’s more like criss-crossing. Last night our paths did cross in D.C.”

Never mind that Rilo Kiley has been fairly prolific in its own right, releasing three full-length albums between 2001 and 2004, with another studio session slated for later this year.

“Jenny and I are both intense workaholics who just don’t ever stop,” Sennett says. “What else am I going to do? If I’m not touring, I want to make a record. And if I’m not making a record, I want to be touring.

“And with (the Elected) I get to experiment. There’s not the same stakes. With this band, if no one liked the record, that would suck, but I wouldn’t be as crestfallen as I would if no one liked a Rilo Kiley record.”

Sun, Sun, Sun, the follow-up to the Elected’s 2004 debut, Me First, offers a similarly appetizing and thoughtful fusion of rootsy pop as its predecessor, minus the electronic embellishments. There’s even something in Sennett’s voice that faintly echoes Steve Forbert.

It’s not as twangy as Lewis’s album, Rabbit Fur Coat, but there is plenty of banjo, lap steel and harmonica in the mix.

“We tried to hearken more to a slightly earlier landscape as far as the music was concerned,” Sennett says. “We also tried to focus on the songs themselves, as well as having a more lush and bigger production. A lot of the songs seemed to be working out without the glitchy beats, so we decided to make a record without any glitchy beats at all.”

As the title suggests, there’s an even greater emphasis on breezy pop this time around, at least on the surface.

“That’s always been something I like something that’s poppy and easy to listen to, but the message is a little darker. `Out on the Weekend’ by Neil Young is a perfect example of that. I’m just a fan of sad lyrics with happy music.”