The rope-strong, luminous follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2004 debut, Me First. Recorded while singer/songwriter Blake Sennett was on tour with his other band, Rilo Kiley, the album is propelled by the kind of unsettled, exploratory impetus that's only native to the American open road. While portions of the album were recorded in studios, Sennett recorded and produced the majority of his creations in environments he was passing through. The dichotomy between feeling completely at home and at the same time homeless on the road fuels Sennett's biting, reflective lyricism and grand, sweeping compositions. Sub Pop. 2006.
Even when on sabbatical from his "other" band Rilo Kiley, guitarist Blake Sennett keeps a great distance from stagnation. In a record driven by elongated performances and an unending interstate (and recorded in various locales along the journey), this Sennett-fronted foursome mirrors its highly commended debut Me First with another mix of razor-sharp and patently droll songsthis round with more of an emphasis on beach-blanket pop than bell-bottomed country. The nomadic Sennett boosts the usual orchestration with lap steel, accordion and saxophone, but it is his own guitar, piano and falsetto vocals that transport wistful tunes like the anxious "Not Going Home" and the Doubting Thomas love song "It Was Love" (backed by Rilo vocalist Jenny Lewis) into bare, intimate anthems. The melancholy melodies of late compatriot Elliott Smith are recalled in the title song, as well as the record's most reflective track, "Fireflies in a Steel Mill." "Should we turn our tails and flee," Sennett asks, "Or just sit tight and breathe deep?" Chances are he'd choose the former, as the latter seems downright impossible. --Scott Holter