Relient K has managed to something that rarely we see a band do in their fifth release: top their previous four releases while maintaining that familiar sound that defined Relient K as a gigantic, monstrous musical force to be reckoned with. Light and poppy, but deep and dark, Relient K takes us through the everyman's daily struggle with both, his human and spiritual self. Loaded with the witty lyrics that Relient K is so famous for, "Five Score & Seven Years Ago" is, undeniably, a gem.
"There's a lot more variety in terms of the music[:] it has a broader scope and it's much more diverse," said the band when I asked them about their latest release. "It has more instruments and more vocals." Right they are. With the addition of John Warne (bass) and Jon Schneck (guitars, banjo, mandolin, etc), Relient K now has five (that's right - five) singing voices. The result? A richer, fuller melodic structure that accents in just the right places in every song - most notably in their first single "Must Have Done Something Right" and their album-ending, 11-minute musical and lyrical masterpiece: "Deathbed" (which features the voice of Switchfoot's Jon Foreman as "Jesus"). Musically, the sound is as tight as ever: the progressions, the riffy guitars, the injective drumming - all mixed with excellence (the production, by the way, is phenomenal). One thing that one notices rather quickly is the appearance of the piano in more songs. A welcomed addition, since it truly makes the sound deeper and fuller.
Lyrically, their humor is, as always, evident on some songs, but there are a few darker humored songs that kind of pick up where "Who I am Hates Who I've Been" (from their album "MmHmm") left us. Focusing on redemption, Relient K declares that, no matter what, God can give you another chance: "Yeah, we're fallen people. Yeah, we're sinful, you know? That's going to happen," said the band, "but He's always there, you know? He'll dust us off and give us a hug." Other songs, like "Faking My Own Suicide" and "The Best Thing", take a fresh and fun look at love and relationships.
In short, "Five Score & Seven Years Ago" is an awesome follow-up to "MmHmm" and, in this critic's opinion, out-did it. If you thought blandly of their previous releases: although this album still carries that Relient K flavor of their previous albums, there's definitely something different on this one - you might want to give it a try. It doesn't matter how long you've been a Relient K fan, this is the album that you've been waiting for. If you're not a Relient K fan yet, brace yourself - you're in for a big, happy surprise!