Much like his Rilo Kiley counterpart, Jenny Lewis, Blake Sennett has an ear for nostalgia-soaked tunes. Since forming Rilo with Lewis back in 1998, Sennett has been cranking out guitar lines and hooks that range from quintessential Cali sunshine pop to dusty indie folk to grinding and somber amplified rock. But after playing backup to Lewis’s lyrics for five years, Sennett started to feel the itch to forge out on his own. And since forming The Elected in 2003, Sennett has not only proved himself a deft lyricist but also has made a name for himself as a band leader, capable of orchestrating and executing more flushed-out takes on all those Rilo riffs we’ve been mentally humming for years.
This Thursday, July 14, Sennett & Co. make a stop at SOhO in support of The Elected’s third and latest full-length, Bury Me in My Rings. Like the band’s past two efforts (2004’s Me First and 2006’s Sun, Sun, Sun), Rings finds Sennett channeling the late, great Elliott Smith in tone and, at times, even candor. Sonically, though, the record is a much more uplifting affair than the reference implies: washes of gently brushed drums, delicate lap-steel work, and parlor-style piano playing wax and wane throughout Rings. And the subject matter—of lost loves, future paths, and the never-ending desire to work it out—evokes a sense of uplifting sentimentality that has long been a mainstay in Sennett’s songbook.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Bury Me in My Rings succeeds in trumping all of The Elected’s back catalogue. Where saccharine-sweet melodies and obvious nods to ’70s folk and ’50s doo-wop once prevailed, we get jovial and subtle nods to Talking Heads (“Look at Me Now”), Neutral Milk Hotel (“Jailbird”), and, yes, even Smith (“This Will Be Worth It”).
“I find that with records, I always have the strongest feelings about my most recent work,” said Sennett in a recent press release. “Sometimes it sucks; other times I made my favorite record. This time, I can safely say it’s my favorite.” And we couldn’t agree more.
The Elected plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) this Thursday, July 14, at 8 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets.