With Blake Sennett fading further into the background on each successive Rilo Kiley album, his side project as frontman for the Elected is an opportunity for the poor guy to show off his talents. But the Elected’s third outing, Bury Me in My Rings, is a middling album that doesn’t consistently play to Sennett’s strengths. While the band’s previous record, Sun, Sun, Sun, was a pleasant and occasionally inspired set of summer pop, Bury Me in My Rings plays too fast and loose with its genre pastiches and is a scattershot affair as a result.
Sennett and his cohorts focus primarily on a dewy brand of soft rock that recalls the worst of dentist’s-office easy-listening music. Opener “Born to Love You” buries Sennett’s straightforward guitar riffs beneath his breathy, high-pitched vocal turn, while “Look at Me Now” plays out as a lifeless retread of Modest Mouse’s “Float On” without the production punch or witty lyrics. This less-is-really-less approach only works on “Jailbird,” a hushed, quirky love song that’s one of the few times that Sennett’s usually wiseass sense of humor comes through. When he attempts to get in a few digs at Lewis and her Acid Tongue reputation on “Go for the Throat,” it ends up coming across as bitter and petty.
The ambling country shuffle of “When I’m Gone” is simply ineffective, and the R&B posturing of “Babyface” comes across as Maroon 5 lite. Sennett is talented enough that none of these songs are outright bad, but they simply lack the same polish and sense of purpose that have made his contributions to Rilo Kiley’s albums and the standout tracks on Sun, Sun, Sun more distinctive. If Sennett hadn’t already proven that the Elected is capable of producing better music than just the average side project, Bury Me in My Rings might not have been such a disappointment.