If indie-music tastemakers make you queasy, you won't have the stomach for Jenny and Johnny.
"Jenny" is Jenny Lewis: Rilo Kiley vocalist, solo artist and sex symbol. "Johnny" is Johnathan Rice, a brooding singer-songwriter type best known for his song "So Sweet," featured on the emotive television show The O.C. The two are dating, introduced by Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), and the album was recorded at Mike Mogis' (also of Bright Eyes) ARC Studios.
That's a lot of hipster credentials for one 35-minute album.
Lewis and Rice are clearly concerned with this new band being appreciated on its own merit. The band's website states: "This is not a Rilo Kiley record, a Jenny Lewis record or a Johnathan Rice record. This is Jenny and Johnny." Fair enough, and yet ... the songs showcasing Lewis sound a lot like Jenny Lewis songs (catchy, clever power-pop numbers "My Pet Snake" and "Just Like Zeus") and are better tracks; and the songs helmed by Rice sound a lot like, well, Johnathan Rice songs (gloomy, folk-tinged downers "Animal" and "Switchblade"). The reality is that Lewis is more famous with cause: Her strong, soulful voice simply has more mass appeal then Rice's pleasant but less-confident delivery.
Both are talented musicians (they play nearly all of the instruments on the album) and vocalists; they are capable of melding their voices together in lovely soaring harmonies, and they smartly use this technique often. The result is a highly listenable, solid pop album—minus a couple of clunkers courtesy of Rice.