After (deservedly) stealing the spotlight from ex-boyfriend and bandmate Blake Sennett in Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis has finally found someone with whom she wants to share equal billing with: longtime boyfriend, singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice.
The lovebirds, now known as Jenny and Johnny, released their first album, I’m Having Fun Now, mere months ago. On first listen, it’s the quintessential end-of-summer experience — warm fun with just a hint of something more sobering around the corner. Listen more closely and the pair’s musicianship comes alive, evidenced by the dreamy mixture of perfect harmonies, lean, layered guitar riffs, and lyrics that swing from cheeky to sweet, often in a call-and-answer style perfectly fitting the band’s winking ’50s aesthetic.
“Scissor Runner,” the album’s first single, is a breezy bit of love’s lament, while “Switchblade” is smoky-smooth, like whiskey at last call. “Big Wave” is a strange triumph where the beat seems to crash up against the lyrics, like one or the other is running slightly ahead of time, creating a nice, haphazard urgency. The catchy chorus to “Animal” dares you to “show your teeth to everyone” and serves to showcase Rice’s strength as a vocalist in his own right, while Lewis has possibly never sounded more angelic than on the tiptoeing lilt of “While Men Are Dreaming.” But the real treat is just how brilliantly their voices blend on the sly “New Yorker Cartoon” and the handclap-happy “Slavedriver.”
And though Lewis and Rice have only been playing together as Jenny and Johnny for a short while, their lengthy history is obvious on stage. It’s not same as the long, adoring, mooning looks shared between married indie-rockers Mates of State, but the shorthand in the stage banter and the tightness in the sound indicates a couple crafting something special. It’s obvious how much fun they are indeed having and the audience can’t help but get swept along.