There seems to be an unwritten rule in pop-punk music that requires bands to release several albums of nonsensical, light-hearted high school anthems, before realizing how incredibly sophomoric these songs soon become. Upon this realization the band decides to up the ante and put out a “serious” album to stake their claim as a legit rock band. The most famous example of this is Blink182 who tried this serious side on their last two albums before breaking up. Tom DeLonge is currently trying to further prove his serious side with his new band Angels and Airwaves. They aren’t the only ones ; The Offspring have done it as well.
The next band currently trying to do the same is Ohio’s Relient K. After releasing five albums in seven years and having parted ways with numerous band members, the now twenty-somethings set about to record a serious and more justified record. The end result is the Howard Benson produced Five Score and Seven Years Ago. As if to further the point that they are not the same band who wrote the teenage staple “Sadie Hawkins Dance,” the Ohio fivesome opens up with an a capella track before shuffling into a series of harder-hitting power-pop songs. The punk edge is still definitely felt but the youthful exuberance has yielded way to a more jaded cynicism and, paradoxically, a firm belief in romance. On the opening track “Come Right Out and Say It” the band comes out firing on all cylinders and pushes the power-pop/alt.rock envelope. Relient K keeps the hits coming with “Best Thing” and the Fountains of Wayne-ish single “Must’ve Done Something Right.” Their attempt at Coldplay-style pop is evident in the ballad “Until There’s Nothing Left to Give” which shows a supple and emotive side of the band that was seen briefly on their last disc MmmHmm but was never fully elaborated on. After “Nothing Left to Give” the band jumps back into the edgy, power-pop ferocity with “Devestation and Reform” and the sugary, sweet choruses of prior albums, before taking a stab at alternative country on the lap-steel and mandolin fueled, “Faking My Own Suicide.” The album closes with the 11 minute epic Deathbed which features Jon Foreman of Switchfoot on guest vocals.
No, Relient K hasn’t reinvented the wheel and, no, this isn’t an album that will make Top 10 lists; it will however push the band further to the forefront of the pop-punk genre and further establish their credibility as serious rock musicians.