Rilo Kiley is something of the odd band out on the roster of the Omaha-based Saddle Creek label — instead of the clenched, grungy emotional wreckage of Bright Eyes and Cursive, the Los Angeles quartet favors the well-scrubbed, streamlined bounce of new wave. Where they intersect with their emo brethren is their subject matter: dealing with the awkward post-collegiate years with an unvarnished directness.
So lead singer Jenny Lewis responds to being separated from her lover in “The Good That Won’t Come Out” (from the band’s most recent release, “The Execution of All Things”) by declaring, “I think I’ll go out and embarrass myself by getting drunk and falling down in the street.”
She’s accompanied on the song by a drum machine as rudimentary and tinny as anything used in 1980. And she delivers the lyrics in a sing-songy coo that’s all the more effective for its dispassion.
But for all her restraint, Rilo Kiley is a band as gangly and unsure of itself as an adolescent. Guitarist Blake Sennett tries to emulate the Smiths’ Johnny Marr on songs such as “My Slumbering Heart,” but Lewis’ vocal eccentricities share less with Morrissey than with Liz Phair. The evening’s most effective moments came when the band played least — Lewis’ solo opener “Troubadour,” a kind of introduction/confession; the unreleased but haunting country ballad “Room 8”; and an acoustic version of “With Arms Outstretched,” with the audience singing along with every word.