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Jenny & Johnny

I'm Having Fun Now


[Warner Bros; 2010]



By ; September 10, 2010 


Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Johnathan Rice has done one hell of a sell job. To an objective observer, his talents should relegate him to a backup role; a role he has performed acceptably in a member of Jenny Lewis’ touring band. Luckily for Rice, he’s managed to leverage his romance with Lewis into the formation of Jenny And Johnny. It’s the kind of nepotism that will surely raise the eyebrows of longtime Lewis fans.

Like contemporaries She & Him, Jenny And Johnny are a real musical partnership. While that means they receive roughly equivalent time at the forefront over the course of the album, it quickly becomes clear that one partner isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. Rice, while a perfectly adequate sideman, is so devoid of personality and character that forcing him into an equal role with Lewis seems not only undeserved, but outright annoying.

Consequently, those hoping for a proper follow-up to 2008’s Acid Tongue are going to be somewhat left out in the cold. I’m Having Fun Now does share some of the Phil Spector era pop sounds that Lewis has employed in the past, however, the songs do not reach the same emotional depths as her previous work. One needs to go no farther than Fun’s “Animal” to see how disbelief in god, a popular Lewis theme, is approached so superficially that it comes across as anti-atheist. Similarly disappointing is “Just Like Zeus,” which is a rather limp attack on hipsters. Worse still is “While Men Are Dreaming” which uses ambient sound for the first 45 second of the song, turning the song into nothing more than a musical speed bump. It’s no surprise then that the best moment on the album is the one with the weakest Rice presence. “Big Wave” finds Lewis in top form taking on the overspending and massive debt of her adoptive state of California. It’s moments like this that remind the listener that Lewis hasn’t lost her touch.

What is missing from Fun is any noticeable amount of tension between the duo. Lewis and Rice seem to be bringing anything special out of one another. On the stronger tracks, like “Switchblade” and the aforementioned “Big Wave,” their harmonies are charming and work well. For the rest of the album they just sound like they’re stepping on each other’s toes, as exemplified best on album opener “Scissor Runner.” Rice is an albatross hanging over the album, and frankly he’s never come off as more unlikeable. All this might sound a bit nitpicky, but I challenge anyone to go back and listen to Lewis’ Rabbit Fur Coat and not come to the conclusion that this should be the last time Johnny collaborates with Jenny.


44%







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