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RELIENT K (2000)
Relient K - Click to view! The power of punk is back just in time for the new millennium with the release of relient K's self-titled debut on Gotee records. Drawing from musical inspirations such as MxPx, Five Iron Frenzy, and Switchfoot, relient K's album blends pounding punk rock with cynical yet poignant lyrics that deliver a powerful message. This enables the teen foursome to reach teenagers where other Christian bands have failed.

The opener is "Hello McFly," in which rK points out the usefulness of a time machine (like that of the DeLorean from the "Back to the Future" movies) to visit the past and correct their mistakes. The good news is that this isn't necessary because we have a merciful God who provides second chances. "My Girlfriend" places Marilyn Manson in the character of antagonist and talks about a girl who was dragged into the Gothic culture, hence the lyrics "Marilyn Manson ate my girlfriend." Track 3, "Wake Up Call," begins with a slow, sleepy melody and crescendos into an alarm of electric guitar mixed with an incredibly loud drum set. The song discusses being waken up by God when only giving him lip-service and is followed by a short, repetitive continuation entitled "Benediction." "When You're Around" is the next track, discussing the comforting presence of God that gives us peace. Track 6, "Softer to Me," is a nice variation in the album, with a dramatically eerie rhythm that doesn't drop the original rock sound of the album. Fittingly, the chorus smoothes out into a much slower, softer melody. relient K next presents a brilliant cover of the theme song from the TV sitcom "Charles In Charge." While this song has no particular message at all, there are some gut-busting voice-overs ("Hey Charles, check this out, this is phat!") and one very cool guitar solo. The hilarity continues with "Staples," a song about a punk who gets what he deserves in a car accident. Still, despite the contempt the band shows, they still follow up with a soothing lyric, "But the good thing would be that we would always know/he would be living with Jesus Christ in his new home." A brief synthesized instrumental called "Anchorage" precedes track 10, "17 Magazine," in which the band ridicules teen magazines that attempt to define love by humanistic terms. "17 magazine" contains some of the best guitar and drums on the whole album and has great lyrics to boot. "Balloon Ride" follows it up stressing the importance of praying to God when times are confusing. Next, "Everything Will Be" reinforces the lyrics of the earlier "When You're Around" and provides some cool effects previously unintroduced, such as the opening carnival theme music and the "power surge" effect created by the electric guitar in the background. The one downside of the album has to be "Nancy Drew," track 13, which sounds nearly exactly like "Everything Will Be" with different lyrics minus the special effects. The song is utterly useless. Finally, "K Car" closes the CD with a hint about how the band got their name and how they plan to continue their ministry strongly if they see Christ as the "driver." If you want to be officially freaked out, just let the CD run for a while after the last song and you'll hear three consecutive hidden tracks. The first one is a huge jumble of noise, such as wicked out-of-place guitar riffs, synthesizer and microphone feedback, and sound clips from TV shows. It eventually smoothes out into some audible form of punk music, familiar to the rest of the album, and finally ends with (of all things) an accordion solo. Even with this weirdness included, the entire CD is definitely worth a listen. relient K has found a way to capture the attention of more youth and still present them with a Christ-centered message. Expect them to become one of the next big names in Christian rock music of this decade.
- Rick Foux
June 2000
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