Relient K has gone a long way in the last year or two in improving their sound. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the band, Relient K is a pop-punk band with lyrics that cover subjects ranging from contemporary issues to relationships to their faith, with the more controversial being the latter.
Over the years, this band has matured an incredible amount from their annoying and overly preachy debut album in 2000 to their fourth full-length, Mmhmm, which was released in 2004. Few bands have worked as hard as Relient K; they release a full-length album nearly every year and even a few EPs in between, all the while touring small venues around the country to slowly build their fanbase. They have improved with every single album, and despite releasing so much material in a short amount of time, they have avoided the filler that we find from so many bands in that genre.
Now to their latest EP, which was released in December 2005. It follows the heels of their highly successful album, Mmhmm, and does a fine job living up to the standard set by that record.
The EP starts out with "The Truth," a song that has a Bad Religion feel in the beginning, which leads into a melodic verse and chorus beautifully sung by Matthew Thiessen, a vocalist who easily has one of the best voices in pop-punk today. The song's lyrics are well-written and thought-provoking, with the theme being "Sometimes the hardest thing to believe is the truth."
The EP continues with the insanely catchy B-side from Mmhmm titled "Apathetic Way to Be," in which Relient K makes usage of the pun "Being apathetic's a pathetic way to be...but I don't care, what matters to you does not matter to me." Relient K has historically used puns throughout their music, and once again, this song's lyrics make it especially interesting.
Next up are three acoustic versions of previous Relient K songs, two of which appeared on their latest album, and the other one which appeared on their release Two Lefts Don't Make a Right...But Three Do. This is the low point of the EP, and it was a mistake for Relient K to do this, because the first two songs were so full and strong, and then the three acoustic songs let you down in some respects.
Nonetheless, they finish the EP off strong with two amazing tracks, "In Like a Lion" and "The Thief." These songs are not the traditional sounding Relient K pop-punk sound; they are both piano ballads that showcase Thiessen's vocal ability quite well. "In Like a Lion" is one of the best songs they have ever released...and yes, the band has said that the song was inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While there is no hint of punk or pop-punk for that matter in these last two songs, they are very enjoyable and is Relient K at their greatest. My hope is that their next album will have more songs such as these two.
Many of you will immediately dismiss this band for one of two reasons: Either because they are "pop-punk" or because they are a Christian band. If it is because of the genre of music that they play, then fair enough. But if it is because they are a Christian band, you should reconsider. I myself am not a Christian, and Relient K's last two full-length albums and this EP do not bother me at all lyrically. These albums are not "preachy" in the slightest way, and I do not feel like they are trying to force anything down my throat.
What I like the most about this band is that they are honest musicians with some of the most honest lyrics you will ever hear. They love the style of music they play with all their heart and could not care less if they "make it" on MTV or not, unlike many other bands in this genre.
So if you have not already, give this band a shot and maybe you'll find the same to be true.