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Jenny & Johnny, aka Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice, have been creatively and romantically involved for half a decade; the lady, one of indie’s most successful thinking beauties, is the bigger star. Maybe that’s why this project, though lighthearted, has some of the prickliness of a real day-to-day relationship. The title may be I’m Having Fun Now, but there’s room for wisecracks, bitterness and worry amid the lovey-dovey stuff.
I’m Having Fun Now distinguishes itself from Lewis and Rice’s solo efforts, or hers with band-on-hiatus Rilo Kiley, by going for a very specific tone. The fuzzy but bright production by the duo, with help from old friends Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and Pierre de Reeder (Rilo Kiley), has been compared to classic AM radio fare but is really closer to the jangle pop of the 1980s — bands like the Three O’Clock and Opal in L.A., Let’s Active out of North Carolina, and the Chills from New Zealand. It’s prettier than what today’s shoegaze revivalists do, but still a little jarring and tart.
Merging voices and exchanging lines, Lewis and Rice don’t duet so much as banter. Some, like “Switchblade,” are directed at the kinds of shifty characters a musical couple might encounter in Hollywood. Others tackle the relationship theme in language that’s highly literate and never over-sugared. — Ann Powers, L.A. Times
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