Relient K - Five Score And Seven Years Ago.
Yesterday saw the release of the fifth LP from my favorite band, Relient K. Let's see how Five Score measures up.
Beginning, oddly, with a short a cappella called "Plead The Fifth," the RK boys immediately lay down their signature vocal harmonies, in possibly the best arrangement of such since "Lion Wilson" from The Anatomy Of The Tongue In Cheek. Then in blows "Come Right Out And Say It," where it is obvious that they are continuing with the sound they created on MMHMM. Very similar hooks, lyrics and instrumental stylings.
Things turn a little harder with "I Need You," but the chorus bounces us right back to the sugar sweet Relient K is so good at. Actually, the backing vocals on this song strongly remind me of Anberlin.
We hear the first significant use of piano on Five Score in "The Best Thing." Other than that, the song isn't much of a standout.
However, "Forgiven" is very unique. One of the most powerful songs RK has ever written, the darker instrumentation combined with highly Christian lyrics makes for an anthem of sorts.
"Must Have Done Something Right" is probably the most fun track on the whole album. On first listen, some of the lyrics might be mistaken for something straight off their self-titled, but the arrangement is reminiscent of songs like "High Of 75" or "My Girl's Ex-Boyfriend." Essentially, it's just pure pop with a sweet message - classic RK.
"Give Until There's Nothing Left" has sort of cliche Christian lyrics. It is a nice showcase for Matt Thiessen's vocal range though.
"Devastation And Reform" is another highlight. While the song's structure reminds me a little too closely of many MMHMM tracks, the lyrics are a step up.
Usually I'll cause my own first hit / It seems to me to be slightly masochistic / But there'd be no story / Without all this descension / So I inflict the conflict / With the utmost of contemption
Good stuff. "I'm Taking You With Me" displays more of their pretty background harmonization, as well as some nice guitar work and sweet lyrics.
"Faking My Own Suicide" is a nice country-tinged treat: it was originally a Matthew Thiessen And The Earthquakes song, and it's neat to hear a full band version.
"Crayons Can Melt On Us For All I Care" hearkens back to old-school RK songs like "Breakfast At Timpani's" or "Kids In The Street." It doesn't fit into the album at all, but it makes hardcore people like me happy.
Things turn back towards the serious with "Bite My Tongue" and stay that way through the beautiful "Up And Up" and the epic "Deathbed." When they told us they were going to have an 11 minute epic track at the end, I only half-believed them. Not only did they actually do it, but they did it amazingly well. They lyrics are like unlike anything we've ever gotten from Thiessen - really complex and referential, and the wide range of instruments (strings! horns! keys!) really adds to the song and keeps it interesting.
Overall, I don't think this album is as big a step forward as is usually made between their CDs. However, I think they are finally settling into a style they can own. It's just really freaking good.
Standout Tracks: Forgiven, Faking My Own Suicide, Deathbed.