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Sarah Tomlinson

The Elected ME FIRST

In the indie band Rilo Kiley, Blake Sennett’s pretty, breathy voice is sometimes obscured by the sinewy vocals of his co-conspirator, Jenny Lewis. But he’s front and center on the debut album by his side project the Elected, who’re rounded out by lap steel player Mike Bloom, bassist Daniel Brummel (Ozma), and drummer Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley). Sennett moves from the quivering of Elliott Smith on “British Columbia” to a cheeky and tough delivery on “Go On.” Playing his voice’s delicacy against lyrics filled with smart, dark humor, he channels the nervous breakdowns and heartache that lurk beneath the tradition of Southern California rock that feeds his music. The spirit is all country on “Waves,” thanks to a rollicking beat and a slide guitar that has the same raw twang that fills Rilo Kiley songs. But the mood is more often elegant, with stately clavinet and brisk trumpet on “A Time for Emily” and æthereal backing vocals by Azure Ray’s Orenda Fink on “Don’t Blow It” adding an element of sophistication that prevents the songs’ beauty and sadness from overshadowing their muscular intelligence.