Jenny and Johnny - I’m Having Fun Now

Tiffany Daniels 08/11/2010

Rating: 5/5

In case you haven't heard, Jenny Lewis and Johnny Rice are an item. Their collaboration is an alarming prospect not because of the vulnerability of working couples, but because the best of their independent material relies on the bitter-sweet misery of heartbreak. The title of their debut - I'm Having Fun Now - does nothing to qualm concerns that the resultant album is a nauseous love-in. As a longstanding member of the Singles Club, I can say that witnessing two of our patron saints fly the coupe for stable ground would be dreadful. Thankfully within ten minutes of listening to this album it becomes clear that neither Lewis nor Rice are keen on the idea either.

I'm Having Fun Now documents the trials and tribulations of a long term relationship in a very attractable fashion. The lyrics quote everything from bedroom tantrums, road rage and Biblical
imagery to express the profound belief that we're all riding in a car that's heading straight off the freeway. It's just that as we're in this together, we might as well, y' together.

The consistency and detail of the penmanship is striking. Snakes are used as a recurring metaphor to casts Jenny as the wicked Eve to Johnny's suffering Adam. Both musicians revel in the roles, but Jenny gains more from her performance. Elsewhere Johnny chimes in with an ounce of religious insight on “Animal”, and on “Switchblade” the two tackle the cracks of their career path. The vocal prominence of Jenny aside, they work well together - there's no whiff of the rivalry we might expect from two front-persons performing together, regardless of their relationship status.

The couple have declared Jenny and Johnny uses a sound entirely different from any of their former outlets. While their ability to write concise and introspective lyrics remains, they embrace a style that's more 1960s pop than ever before. “My Pet Snakes” is a versatile song that would be at home on any airwave; “Just Like Zeus” and “Slavedriver” are diamonds in the rough comparable to the best calypso-pop out there. However, while “New Yorker Cartoon” and “While Men Are Dreaming” progress in terms of accomplishment, they oversee a welcomed return to the material Rilo Kiley produced during their most celebrated era, and prove that we really are listening to Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice.

I'm Having Fun Now is an intelligent documentation of life set to a pop backdrop. Preconceptions needn't be dropped to appreciate Jenny and Johnny as a new project, but conversely the album proves there's a lot of life left in the duo's creativity. This is a phenomenal listen from two phenomenal artists.