Five Score and Seven Years Ago

Relient K

Capitol, 2007

http://www.relientk.com

REVIEW BY: Daniel Camp

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/05/2008

The boys at Relient K have forged an identity similar to many other Christian rock bands of late: they are a group of Christians who love God and believe He has a definite effect on their music, but they don’t use their songs to worship or to preach; instead, they use them to have a good time and to express themselves. And though they have never had a problem with the good time part in previous albums, on Five Score the band learns how to effectively get personal and to articulate their feelings and their message. And they’ve never sounded better doing so.

In an effort to branch out and expand beyond the musical barriers that they have set for themselves on previous releases, Matt Thiessen and Co. employ far more straight-up punk than longtime fans will be used to, but as with most of the experiments on this album, the idea works brilliantly. Tracks like “I Need You” and “Devastation And Reform” are far more acerbic than the average Relient K ditty, absent of their usual sunshine pop yet still managing to convey positive messages through Thiessen’s uplifting lyrics and vocals. “Forgiven,” one of the album’s best tracks and my personal favorite, is another song surprisingly lacking in Relient K’s usual cheeriness in expressing one of the album’s few blatantly Christian messages. However, Christian or not, Thiessen’s lyrics combined with the spot-on punk sound will have you nodding your head and agreeing with the chorus’s message.nbtc__dv_250

Despite the band’s efforts to dabble in the punk-ier side of pop-punk, the typical sound fans have grown accustomed to has its place as well in songs like the like the lovey-dovey “Must Have Done Something Right” and the instantly identifiable “Come Right Out and Say It.” Songs like these two and the silly twelve second snippet “Crayons Can Melt On Us For All I Care” are a comforting reminder that though the band has shown a leap in lyrical and musical maturity, they have not abandoned their roots and are continuing to have a great time making music.

“Faking My Own Suicide,” easily the most unique and arguably best track on the album, shows that the band can both make you think and smile. The track incorporates a banjo (yes, a banjo), the best lyrics Thiessen has ever written, and stellar vocals to provide listeners with a brilliant song about unrequited love, Tom Sawyer-style. Of all the songs on the album, this one deserves the most accolades for successfully sounding like nothing the band has ever done before yet still being instantly identifiable as a Relient K song.

The musical and emotional journey the album takes you on culminates in fitting fashion with the band’s opus, the eleven minute epic, “Deathbed.” The song tells the story of an old man who, having lived a lonely existence for his entire life, finds a friend and salvation in Christ on his deathbed, then dies fulfilled and happy for the first time. The song is not one I revisit often due to its story format and length, but the first time I heard it, it brought tears to my eyes. This is by far the finest vocal performance of Matt Thiessen’s career (with an assist from Jon Foreman of Switchfoot as the voice of Jesus); the emotion in his voice immediately cuts into you, as do the gentle piano chords that resound throughout the track. This beautiful song tells you everything about the band’s newfound maturity that you need to know, a perfect summary of the band’s musical and lyrical progression.

This album has so many positives that upon listening to it all the way through for the first time, you will immediately check your watch to make sure you have time to listen to it all over again. Musical masterpieces are hard to find in genres so limited as Christian rock, but Relient K has offered listeners one in Five Score and Seven Years Ago.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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