Relient K - Five Score and Seven Years Ago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Relient K

Five Score and Seven Years Ago (2007)


Relient K are not the type of band one could ever really call an acquired taste. No, the band plays sugary pop-punk with an emphasis on the pop, and their seemingly innate ability to write excessively catchy tunes paid off on their last full-length, Mmhmm, which sold in excess of 700,000 copies. That album exposed the band's newfound ability to explore new sounds, primarily through slowing the pace down, throwing in more rock influences and a significant chunk of piano.

This trend continues on Five Score and Seven Years Ago, which takes an even greater rock influence into its mold and extends the band's penchant for family-friendly power-pop with lyrical content that is heavily moralized and at times overtly Christian. It's not everyone's cup of tea, and it doesn't have a great lasting appeal, but for what they do, the band does it fairly well.

The album consists of several song styles, but predominantly consists of medium-paced rock tunes and bubbly pop songs. The band mixes it up enough to give the disc a fair amount of variety, and the band somehow manage to make the songs fit together without sounding like a mixtape. For the most part, the group keeps the pop content bearable, but at times it gets to be grating. "Must Have Done Something Right" is a token single that is excessively sugary, even by the band's standards. As lead singer Matt Thiessen lets lyrics such as "We should get jerseys / Cause we make a good team / But yours would look better than mine / Cause you're out of my league" slip, the listener will either have a new away message or change the track before the overly sweet chorus kicks in. Another eye-roller comes in the form of "Crayons Can Melt on Us for All I Care," a 12-second track that merely proclaims "I just wasted ten seconds of your time."

After mentioning the shortest song the band has ever done, one has to take a look at the longest -- the album closer "Deathbed." This 11-minute ballad is pulled off a lot better than one might expect, and though it slightly wears out its welcome (not to mention Jon Foreman of Switchfoot singing as Jesus is a bit bizarre), it features some lush orchestration, and it is certainly one of the band's most memorable tracks. Yet it is when the band sticks to what they know that they perform the best. Songs like "Bite My Tongue" and "Up and Up" are where the band sound the most comfortable, and inevitably where they are the most successful.

Ultimately, if MmHmm was a guilty pleasure of yours, Five Score and Seven Years Ago will probably serve the same purpose. If you didn't enjoy their previous effort, there will be little to interest you here. There are a couple of tracks out of the 14 that might make you reach for the skip button, but if you're looking for a fun power-pop album, you could do a lot worse than what you find here.