Five Score and Seven Years Ago
By Ashley Emert
To look at a couple of the song titles on Relient K’s newest release, you might think that they’d slipped into the emo trend of music that many bands are adopting.
Titles like “Faking My Own Suicide” and “Deathbed” had me flipping through the CD booklet for any pictures that might show signs of tear-shaped black eyeliner. Thankfully enough, there was no eye makeup to be found.
It’s safe to say that their sound has definitely changed since they were donning their khaki pants for the “Sadie Hawkins Dance,” a song off of their second album. Although they still adhere to their quirky analogies and harmonies, they also experiment a bit more with different sounds. “Faking My Own Suicide,” for instance, has a country tinge to it.
The album opens with an a cappella song that is so richly layered, it sounds like there are also instruments involved. The following two songs, “Come Right Out and Say It” and “I Need You,” are slightly angsty and have a heavier sound. To balance that out, “The Best Thing” is a nice, pop-rock love song with an awesome piano layer underneath the whole thing.
Relient K has Christian roots and undertones in their music, but it is not as prevalent on this album. Seeing that one of the songs is called “Forgiven,” I was waiting for a definite message to be blatantly told, but that wasn’t the case. They connect the Christian idea of forgiveness with an earthly concept, saying, “I know that I have been forgiven, and I just hope you can forgive me too.”
The best way to describe their single “Must Have Done Something Right” is to say that it is incredibly catchy. Let’s just say that it makes me want to drive down a palm-tree lined road in a convertible and bob my head side-to-side when I hear the chorus. I’m listening to it right now and I’m definitely dancing in my chair — I dare you to not do the same when you hear it.
“Give Until There’s Nothing Left” is a mellower turn and I believe it also contains a Christian message. Kicking things back up immediately after that track is “Devastation and Reform” is a faster song that reminds me of one from their previous album, lyrically-wise. The song is about essentially breaking everything down inside, or as they say, “pull my heart out, reconstruct, in the end there’s nothing but a shell of what I had when I first started,” and then rebuilding yourself.
Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I’m a big fan of “I’m Taking You With Me.” The lyrics, “Every second that goes by is one more second off my life / And it couldn’t be more clear that I’m literally dying without you here.” Morbid, yes, but true if you really think about it.
Interestingly enough, those borderline-emo lyrics, lead into “Faking My Own Suicide.” The song is about him killing himself and then “they’ll hold a double funeral because a part of you will die along with me.” How … romantic?
The ten-second “Crayons Can Melt On Us For All I Care” is a fun interjection of randomness that Relient K usually tosses onto their albums. It definitely won’t be a waste of your time — hardy-har-har. (You’ll get that joke when you hear the song.)
“Bite My Tongue” laments a common problem: saying too much and wishing you could take it back. My favorite lyrics from it are, “It seems I’m always close minded with an open mouth.” The following track, “Up And Up,” is a lighter song about trying to forget about the past and just looking toward the good things happening now.
The final track, “Deathbed,” is 11 minutes long and I thought maybe that meant there was a hidden track after the four-minute song. Alas, the whole thing is actually that long. It goes through a man’s life, from birth to death, and talks about the things that he experienced.
There are slightly different sounds to each phase of his life and it tells a pretty gripping story. I recommend sticking it out through all eleven minutes. Although the subject matter can be a little depressing at times (obviously), they somehow manage to keep it upbeat and catchy.
Overall, another solid effort by Relient K. They seem to be honing their sound more and more with each album, in addition to integrating new themes and even sharper writing. From “(Marilyn Manson Ate) My Girlfriend” on their first album to “Deathbed,” the band is maturing, yet staying away from the eyeliner.