April 10, 2003

Test Spin: Relient K

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Relient K means well. They used to be a pseudo-Christian band (they worked that whole “we’re talking about God, but it probably could be a girl” thing) and now they’ve decided to take the daunting journey into the mainstream with their third release Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right … But Three Do. Nice try boys.

Some Christian rock bands belong on a youth revival stage, while others can (and should) make the leap into TRL fame. Count this Canton, Ohio act up to the former. Or at least let’s hope so.

Copying the whiney exploits of the pop-punk conglomerate of New Found Sum 41 Blinking while Charlotte Eat World, Simply Planning American Rejects at 182/41, Relient K just seems too innocent to fit in. With songs like “Mood Ring,” in which lead singer Matt Thiessen offers, “I’ve contrived some sort of a plan to help my fellow man/ Let’s get emotional girls to all wear mood rings/ So we’ll be tipped off to when they’re ticked off,” Relient K feels too sing-songy for punk purists. And do we really need another band to provide a soundtrack tune for Fraternity Life?

Admittedly, like every Avril Lavigne song you’ve ever heard, some (er, most) of the album is very catchy. Songs like “Fell in Love with the ’80s” and “Falling Out” stay with you long after a first listen. The album’s variety is also striking, as the tracks move between Kiss power riffs, gentle keyboard melodies and acoustic guitar intros. However, most of the songs eventually stray back to the electrically saturated, frantically lyrical chaos of punk-moderna.

Here’s a Simple Plan for Relient K: go back to the universe of contemporary Christian rock. The God-motivated “Trademark,” “I am Understood?” and “Getting Into You” are truly this album’s highlights, and should remain Relient K’s specialty. Christian kids could use some more good music anyway. These Buckeyes are not quite up to the challenge of Carson & Co., but are certainly deserving of their current designation as Christian rock’s best and most bearable hope.

Archived article by Scott Jones