Jenny and Johnny: I’m Having Fun Now

Jenny and Johnny
I’m Having Fun Now
(Warner Bros.)

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Well, it’s about time!  Finally, after several years of dating, Rilo Kiley front-woman Jenny Lewis and Scottish singer/songwriter Johnathan Rice recently teamed up in the studio and released their first album together, I’m Having Fun Now.  The title, which can at times be read with a sense of sarcasm, aptly sets the tone for the album, which features ridiculously catchy indie pop-rock hooks with more serious, reflective lyrics.

What makes this album so great is that neither artist seems to compromise his or her own individual style, but instead, they opt to layer the two styles together.  Johnathan—or Johnny, as he is apparently now calling himself—brings to the table his usual, stunning, apocalyptic guitar music and distinct, hazy vocals, while Ms. Lewis incorporates her own beautiful, pop-happy singing.

There are few, if any, throw-away tracks on the album, and many stand-outs, including “Chacarera.”  The lyrics of this song focus on the suffering and now in-question American Dream: “Living your life in the gray/Is the new American way/We’re spending what we haven’t made” and that “it’s going to hit you with a big wave.”  This “big wave” seems to present itself literally in the melody as well, as the song sounds like a fun, 50’s rock and roll, beach track, with Johnny singing lead and Jenny singing a prominent and well-layered back-up.

While this album fits in stylistically with a lot of the other beachy indie pop that’s going on right now (Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls), the lyrics and quality of each song sets them in a class of their own.  Johnny’s guitar playing, which is showcased in solos here and there, is truly stellar, and Jenny Lewis’ voice is angelic, but still rock and roll.

Even if you were only somewhat interested in Jenny or Johnny’s previously-released solo music, I still highly recommend this album, as it proves that its sum is indeed greater than its parts.

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About Julie Kocsis

Julie Kocsis is Associate Editor and a contributing writer of ShortAndSweetNYC.com. Living in Brooklyn, she works for Penguin Random House during the day and writes about rock bands at night. In addition to her many band interviews as well as album and concert reviews that have been published on ShortAndSweetNYC.com, she has also been published on The Huffington Post, Brooklyn Exposed and the Brooklyn Rail.
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