by Matt Balogh
Starting in 1998, Relient K made their way through the Christian Punk scene, eventually finding their audience. With a contract signed to indie Christian label, Gotee Records, Relient K released their self-titled debut to little initial reaction, but eventually went on to sell 400,000 copies. The band’s sound had used humor and references to pop culture to combine with a catchy pop-punk sound, making them the perfect subject for an era that pop-punk dominated.
A year later, the band’s next album “Anatomy of Tongue and Cheek,” had charted them on the Billboard 200, debuting at number 158. Songs like “Pressing On” and “Sadie Hawkin’s Dance” had brought them more popularity, and the album eventually was certified gold. Throughout another full length and a handful of EPs later, Relient K had managed not to lose their playful wit and pop-punk charm that listeners loved.
In 2004, Relient K met with mainstream success, as they signed to Capitol Records to release their album “Mmhmm,” heavily driven by their hit single “Be My Escape.” The album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200, and furthered their success even more. This album worked as a platform for experimentation, when compared to their previous releases. While maintaining a pop-punk element, “Mmhmm” introduces sounds of alternative rock, post-hardcore and even soft rock balled-style songs. After “Mmhmm,” the band had released 6 albums, including a Christmas compilation.
Lyrically, their songs discuss various topics, however, they do incorporate Christian faith into their lyrics. Over the years, the religious references have seldom appeared, but still are a consistent feature of their music. Since their stylistic experimentation in “Mmhmm,” their lyrics have been a little more serious than their cheerful and humorous songs in the past.
In 2017, Relient K had released their new EP in time for Valentine’s Day, titled “Truly Madly Deeply.” Despite the title, there are no covers of Savage Garden, but rather a 3 song EP of all originals.
Leading off the EP “Candy Hearts,” is a return to the pop-punk sound that the band had so perfectly perfected. The song makes for an excellent introduction of the very short EP, working as a “carpe diem” style story, offering love to an unknown recipient.
The song has very straightforward structure, but is very energetic as a modern love song. Showing their versatility, the next track “Happy Valentimes” is a rockabilly style song, featuring a shuffling beat that pumps out a catchy backbone to the song. “Happy Valentimes” is a lot less complex lyrically, as it follows a linear love story and squeezes in some essential ‘Lalalas.’ The final track, “BMI Valentine” has a style similar to folk-rock, complete with an acoustic guitar backing. This song is a fairly depressing close to an EP full of love, considering it is more of a hopeless romantic story. The song references to alcoholism, and being without a heart while looking for a valentine.
For what it’s worth, the EP is a nice little collection for a listen during this year’s Valentine’s Day. The length of it helps with the variation of song genres, making it flow better than they may have on a full length. Specifically, lead singer/guitarist Matt Thiessen’s lyrics have never dulled, and continue to influence feeling on the band’s fans.