The lower profile of two simultaneously released albums from members of indie darlings Rilo Kiley (the other is Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins’ Rabbit Fur Coat), the second album from The Elected, Sun, Sun, Sun, is the kind of album that gives critics whose knowledge of country music starts with Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt,” runs by “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy),” and ends with Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose the opportunity to spout a great deal of nonsense about the genre in an attempt to appear well-rounded in their musical knowledge, which they can get away with because their target readership actually knows even less about country music than they do. That its content is closer to classic “country” than what Faith Hill screamed on Fireflies says far less about Sun, Sun, Sun than it does about Hill, and it in no way makes Sun, Sun, Sun the modern pop simulacrum of traditional country it’s been characterized as elsewhere. That ringleader Blake Sennett, Rilo Kiley’s other erstwhile child star, has Mike Mogus lay down some nice, tonally appropriate steel guitar on “It Was Love” doesn’t, in and of itself, make the song a country song. Nor do the kitschy horns at the climax of “Fireflies In A Steel Mill” recall the Bakersfield style of Buck Owens. Instead, Sun, Sun, Sun sounds like an album of warm summerpop that isn’t done many favors by a late January release. Sennett’s songwriting skews, not surprisingly, toward the emo, what with the album framed as it is with brief themes about a “bird with a broken wing” whose “voice is strong” and “can still sing.” Songs like “The Bank And Trust” and “Not Going Home” all boast pleasant, hummable melodies that, with the exception of “Fireflies,” ultimately don’t distinguish themselves from each other, let alone from the countless other lo-fi indie pop albums like Fruit Bats’ Spelled In Bones or The Shins’ Oh, Inverted World in Sub Pop’s catalog. Sun, Sun, Sun is a likeable enough album, sure, but it leaves only the most faint of impressions.
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