Taking a trip back in time (going a little McFly here) to life in 2003. I was about to turn 10, CDs were still the standard for music buyers, Myspace was still number one in Social Media, and a little band known as Relient K was getting ready to release their third studio album. Relient K had been active in the scene for a few years prior to this release, with their eponymous debut released on Gotee Records. With The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek, the Canton boys started to garner mainstream success, with headlining tours and exclusive interest from clothing brands. When Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right, But Three Do dropped on March 11, 2003, the album was welcomed with open arms by fans and critics alike, even earning them a Grammy nomination as well. The album showed growth musically, while still maintaining the witty yet poignant lyrics that they’re famous for. With quintessential teenage anthems like “Mood Rings” and “College Kids,” to earnest conversations with God, “Getting Into You” and “Am I Understood?” Relient K was proving their staying power while keeping things fresh. Of course, it wouldn’t be Relient K without some of the goofiness as well, and songs like “Chap Stick, Chapped Lips, and Things Like Chemistry,” “Gibberish” and the delightful hidden track, take care of that void (even if Matt Thiessen is the worst freestyle rapper ever). Two Lefts was undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2003, and marked a new era for the quirky pop rockers.
Fast forward to 2013, and Relient K is still touring and making music, although not as much as they did in their earlier years. With considerable band member and musical style changes, Relient K finally bestows upon their fans a new record. It’s been over four years since they’ve released any original material (there was a covers album that was released in 2011), and the anticipation for some fresh music has been extremely high. The RK boys stated that they initially wanted to release the record in 2012, which then got pushed to January 2013, then pushed to April, and finally settled on July 2013 as their release date for Collapsible Lung, their seventh (including K Is For Karaoke) studio album.
Looking at Two Lefts and Collapsible Lung side-by-side, there are considerable differences and some similarities. With Two Lefts, you get that youthful, yet thoughtful punch and dorky charm that trademarked Relient K in their earlier years, and with Collapsible Lung, you get a more pensive yet laid back vibe while giving it a spin (or a click through your playlist). Both albums give a good look into where the band, especially wordsmith and frontman Matt Thiessen, is in life, while wrapping their stories up nice and tightly in clever hooks and catchy riffs. As far as which is better than the other, I’ll leave that to the reader to decide. Both serve as a part of Relient K’s journey and career, and both leave the listener with different things to think about after the last track plays.
Over the years, Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right, But Three Do has been hailed as Relient K’s “best” by some, although it sometimes gets overshadowed by their 2004 release, MMHMM, when discussing Relient K’s library. The record was definitely a step in the right direction for these pop punkers, with it taking a more straight up rock approach while still keeping some of the goofiness and all of the wit found on previous records. Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right, But Three Do is a classic Relient K album, and still remains as one of the best releases in their genre to this day. Happy belated birthday, Two Lefts, you still look and sound as good as you did ten years ago!
-- Cortney Warner