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Relient K
[ the anatomy of the tongue in cheek ]

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THE ANATOMY OF THE TONGUE IN CHEEK (2001)
The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek - Click to view! One of Christian music's most popular punk bands has returned, this time shelling out an entirely fresh arsenal of 17 tracks on their sophomore release, The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek. Relient K bundles hysteria, ambiguity, and theology all together in one small package, proving that you can be a Christian and still have fun at the same time. Although not a tremendous leap forward from their self-titled debut, The Anatomy... still openly displays the band's maturity and cohesion since then.

Relient K kicks off with "Kick-Off," one of the CD's minute, unnecessary tracks but still a solid rocker at best. Other such nonsense includes "Lion Wilson," in which the boys perform a "doo-wop" chorus, and "Breakfast At Timpani's," which defies any reasonable explanation except to say, "The eggs are great." One remaining half of the album consists of straight-up, fun-loving punk anthems with a little bit of worshipful stuff thrown in. For example, "Pressing On," the album's first single, sounds very similar to anything Blink 182 and is an easy indication of how much Relient K's sound has matured. This same powerful style can also be found among "Sadie Hawkins Dance," a song about the joys of feeling unburdened, "Down in Flames," which calls Christians to step up and take responsibility instead of sitting on the sidelines, and "Failure to Excommunicate," perhaps the best effort on the entire CD. It tells of the undying love of Christ and how He will never reject those who lift their eyes to Him, and Thiessen's vocals shine throughout its verses. What little of the band's softer side is captured in moments like "Those Words Are Not Enough," "For The Moments I Feel Faint," and "Less Is More," the latter being the most brilliant (musically and lyrically) of the three. That trio of songs is an offering of worship to the Father, pleading for God to be with us in the times that we feel the most alone, and stressing that words alone cannot convey the love we have for Christ.

The remainder of The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek doesn't do much at all for Relient K or their listeners for that matter. Several ridiculous, out-of-place songs crop up in between the few that are impressive. "Maybe It's Maybelline," for instance, displays how we tend to lay blame for our own sin on everybody but ourselves; "Mabelline"'s overall melody is lackluster and monotonous. "I'm Lion-O" and "May The Horse Be With You" are flat out pointless -- the album as a whole would have been stronger without them. Other tracks lacking any significant depth are "My Way or the Highway" and "The Rest is Up to You," which both sound like they were written hurriedly in an attempt to squeeze 17 songs on the finished product before its release date. Many of these disappointments hinder the band from getting the full attention of their listeners and also keep them from gaining a significant foothold in the punk genre.

Overall, Relient K's second release proves a mediocre effort at best; Anatomy works satisfactorily only as evidence that they still possess so much untapped talent. If its band members were to fully understand what they could be capable of, there's a possibility that Relient K could become the next household name in Christian music.
- Rick Foux
October 2001
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