Unless you’re Jenny Lewis, being in Rilo Kiley is probably a bit like being one of the guys from Paramore -- forever stuck in the background, relegated to a sideman role due to the good looks and sheer charisma of the frontwoman. No one knows the story better than Blake Sennett. After sharing power with Lewis during Rilo Kiley’s early days, he gradually became part of the band’s all-male backdrop, often singing one song per album and letting Lewis croon the rest. Bury Me in My Rings, his third album with side project the Elected, proves he still deserves his own share of the spotlight. Split evenly between soft rock, West Coast country, and R&B pastiche, these songs prove how good Sennett can be when left to his own devices, and the few danceable numbers don’t fall on their faces the way Rilo Kiley’s previous album, Under the Blacklight, often did. Bury Me in My Rings doesn’t take itself too seriously -- funky guitars give way to pedal steel on “Look at Me Now,” and “Babyface” sounds like Talking Heads doing a Prince tune -- yet the laughs never come at the expense of the actual music, which is performed by Sennett and a handful of familiar faces (Saddle Creek producer Mike Mogis, Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel, omnipresent L.A. session musician Gus Seyffert). A guitarist at heart, Sennett plays short riffs like his own sideman, favoring cute, economical licks rather than long solos, and he pulls out a ukulele for a pair of summery, beachside pop tunes, “Trip Round the World” and “See the Light.” He may be smarting from the success of Jenny Lewis’ solo career -- it’s hard not to attribute lyrics like “You’re so cool, you think you’re so fine/You’ve got that ‘go for the throat’ mind” to his erstwhile partner -- but it’s nice to see him in the driver’s seat once again, proving he’s much more than a chauffeur for someone else’s career.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey