Thursday, March 8, 2007

Relient K - Five Score and Seven Years Ago

Band: Relient K
Album: Five Score and Seven Years Ago
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Label: Gotee/Capitol

“Five Score and Seven Years Ago” is a worthwhile follow up to “mmhmm.” Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much growth since the 2004 release. However, what’s been characteristic of Relient K in the past isn’t lost. As always, the lyrics are fairly clever, and tinged with some humor. Matt Thiessen has his way with words, although they’re by no means, brilliant or groundbreaking.

The CD starts out with some good old vocal percussion and harmonizing in “Plead the Fifth,” which offers up a brief foray into the assassination President Lincoln. Notice, also, the connection to Lincoln in the title of the release, only it is “Five Score,” rather than four score. My only question here is what exactly is Thiessen implying with the line, “An impersonator died?” I’d have to ask him to back off of a great president.

“Come Right Out and Say it” marks the beginning of the return to the Relient K style. It’s a power pop ballad, pleading for honesty in a relationship. “Why don't you come right out and say it? / Even if the words are probably gonna hurt.” However, songs about relationships aren’t the only aces up Relient K’s collective sleeve. “I Need You” is a slightly harder (and by harder I mean, hardly at all) song about God. This song illustrates a feeling of being cornered and seeking strength in God. “You say you've heard my prayers, you've read my words that are on the beach.”

It seems that after this song, the stage for the CD has been set. The plan is to mix generic love songs, with a few songs about God; after all, they are a Christian-rock band. The songs that follow, “The Best Thing” and “Forgiven” are just what you would expect from Relient K, the same poppy sound and sappy love lyrics and praise for the Lord.

I’m not sure if Thiessen thinks that he will escape the cliché of love songs, if he admits to doing it, but I’ll be the first to say that it’s just not working out. In “Must Have Done Something Wrong” Thiessen explains, “And I know that it’s so cliché / To tell you that everyday / Spent with you is the new best day of my life” It’s very true, it is cliché, so unless he intends to stick only to writing tired and outplayed love songs for the rest of his career, its about time to change it up a bit. Relient K lyrics, are snappy and clever, but by no means are they innovative or original. However, the band deserves some credit for this track. It’s pretty upbeat and has a sort of fun energy to it. I would not be surprised if this is the first single to come from this release.

The CD trudges on, just as the above pattern suggests. Until track eleven there’s an about even mix of love songs and songs with Christian undertones. However, the eleventh track, “Crayons Can Melt on us for all I Care,” comes totally unexpected. It’s brief and clever, and wildly humorous, at least I thought so.

“Five Score and Seven Years Ago” ends with “Deathbed” which is a monster of a storyteller, clocking in at just over 11 minutes. It tells the life story of a dying man. To it’s credit, it contains a variety of styles sewn together neatly with solid transitions. Finally, after a series of crescendos an instrumental interlude leads to the end of the song. It builds up and slowly trails off, and finally, the song culminates with vocals provided by both Jon Foreman and Thiessen. Unfortunately, Foreman’s contribution to this closing duet sounds forced and almost unnatural.

It is hard to fault Relient K for sticking to their guns and continuing with a style that they know well, but then again, it’s hard not fault them for not maturing. The chemistry is there, it is clear that they are a group of talented musicians who work well together. However, after two years, I would have hoped that their sound would have matured a bit, or at least that they said goodbye to their rigid formula of verse-chorus pop rock. If you’re looking for mmhmm part two, you’ll be satisfied with “Five Score,” however, if you’ve been hoping for Relient K’s “Deja Entendu” you won’t even find a glimmer of it here.

As a note, this CD is currently streaming, in its entirety, excluding the final song, “Deathbed,” on the band’s myspace.

1 comment:

Hobb said...

Good job at sneaking Deja Entendu in there!