Jenny & JohnnyIf there’s any dreamy chanteuse that indie boys crush on more than She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel, it’s Jenny Lewis, late of Rilo Kiley and more recently of a string of critically beloved solo albums.

Now she’s out with a new album, a collaboration with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice (also a solo artist) under the moniker Jenny & Johnny. It’s called I’m Having Fun Now.

Lewis has always teetered on the edge of excess hipness and from my limited exposure Rice seems a bit precious, so they were any number of ways their love project could have taken a turn for the douchey. To my surprise and delight, however, it’s one of my favorite things Lewis has ever done. She has ditched the arty pretensions of her solo career in favor of pure, catchy indie pop. It’s the most hummable things she’s produced since early Rilo Kiley.

There’s also an intriguing undercurrent of complicated, pungent darkness to the proceedings that serve to anchor it a bit. It doesn’t just evaporate.

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Rice’s solo work has never grabbed me, but I suspect there’s any number of solo troubadours who could produce something excellent with an “and Jenny.” Lewis has such charisma, such a magnetic voice, that she elevates the songs.

This one’s called “Big Wave.” It’s been lodged in my braingrape for a week now.

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