Pop/punk seems to be a style that not only has been around for decades, but has been enduring year to year following. From the Christian appeal of MxPx to the irritatingly rebellious idiocy of Blink 182, punk has thrived. With the release of new artists Relient K earlier this year, the young band has been making waves on the radio and in concert everywhere they're heard.
Their self-titled debut album is chock-full of pop icon commerical material from the Wendy's restaurant to Teen Magazine and Nancy Drew. It's youth-centered themes and pop/punk rock sensibilities make this record key for the young adults, but not so appealing for the slightly older crowd.
The opening track "Hello McFly" utilizes a Back to the Future reference to express regret of bad choices they'd like to erase via time-travel Marty McFly-style. Although this theme is appealing to anyone who grew up in the 80's, the song feels exceptionally geared to a younger crowd. On the other hand, the album's highlight follows, "My Girlfriend," a song against the Gothic movement that apparently "consumed" one of their girlfriends. The comical lyrics and catchy Wheezer-like background vocals make this easily the easiest and best song to listen to on the album. "Wake Up Call" takes another comical and musically fun approach while telling how Jesus gave them a 'wake up call' from their former lives without God. "Benediction" basically acts as a continuation of "Wake Up Call" with a harmonious vocal arrangement and a musical backdrop that is reminiscent of a pop ballad (an intriguing achievement from such a young band). "When You're Around," an unconventional love song to our Heavenly Father, continues the catchy fun punk riffs and vocals, clocking in at merely 2 minutes. "Softer to Me" cranks the guitars for a fast-paced modern rock tune with clean instrumentation and arrangement. To flip the coin back to the fun-loving tunes of the beginning of the CD, Relient tosses in a pop punk cover of the "Charles in Charge" TV show theme with a Christian twist.
"Staples" is an odd song about a friend of theirs who nearly was killed in severe accident but survived. Although he came close to dying, ."..the good thing would be that we would always know... He would be living with Jesus Christ in his new home." The rhythmic radio rock is oddly interrupted by the band's inclusion of their impression of a surgical staple gun. "All you could hear was kachunk, kachunk, kachunk! All you could hear was the doctor putting staples in this punk." "17 Magazine" mocks the shallowness of the world's view of love and how teen magazines create an outrageously false identity for love. The album ends with 2 fun tracks that don't take themselves too seriously. "Nancy Drew" is simply a love song to the famous literary youth sleuth and finally a song about a "K Car." But if that wasn't enough, the album includes 2 hidden tracks. The first appears to be a jam session of the band's and the other sounding like circus or amusement park music.
An entertaining debut from 4 guys in their late-teens from Ohio that just wanna have fun and play Christian music, Relient K is a new group I will be pleased to watch the career of in the coming years.- Review date: 10/8/00, written by John DiBiase
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