Though heavy on the ballads and Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter fare, Jenny Lewis’ 2008 solo effort, Acid Tongue, was recorded in a loose, house-party atmosphere. With many all-night blowouts, the real fireworks don’t go off until all the guests have left the hosts to their own devices. So it initially seems with Lewis and her live-in beau Johnathan Rice, who follow up their Acid Tongue collaborations with I’m Having Fun Now, an album whose rowdy side brings in images of snakes, knives, and, er, the California budget crisis.
Yes, from its washes of head-cold reverb to its best song, “Big Wave”—a redux of Lewis’ most propulsive Rilo Kiley moments, treated with pealing surf-rock guitars—the debut LP by the newly minted Jenny And Johnny is a pop record steeped in Great Recession malaise. Unfortunately, for all the conflict promised by the adversaries hiding in the corners of their lyrics, songs like the made-for-PCH-cruising “Straight Edge Of The Blade” and the Bob Dylan homage “New Yorker Cartoon” are undone by their own sun-baked ennui. I’m Having Fun Now is bound to disappoint anyone expecting to peer in on domestic knock-down drag-outs—or anything more sultry than the disinterested S&M play of “Slavedriver.” However, as a soundtrack for idly watching the detritus of 2010 wash out to sea, it works pretty well.