Relient K – The Anatomy Of The Tongue In Cheek
August 28, 2001
What It Sounds Like: As the title suggests, straight up pop-punk with an overload of tongue in cheek lyrics, with more than one occurrence of restraint into solid rock hooks, introspective wording and timing, and depth that was completely unexpected, but wholeheartedly welcomed.
Relient K fits seamlessly into my life. These songs are weaved into the fabric of my being, being put there at the ripe age of fifteen, only to resound for years and years to come. Was there really a time in my history when I didn’t know the likes of Pressing On? Sadie Hawkins Dance? My Way Or The Highway?
What Relient K did so well that propelled them into stardom (at least in the Christian industry, more so in the beginning of their career) was their mixing of humor and sincerity throughout their records, especially starting with The Anatomy Of The Tongue In Cheek. It never felt once like they were shoving something in your face.
They could sing about horses being turned into glue, throwback 80s figures like Lion-O, and those dances where the girls ask the guys—-and then turn around and sing about surprisingly deep, but still tongue in cheek, issues like Christian attitude (Down In Flames), sliding into the ways of the world (What Have You Been Doing Lately?), and knowing that excuses are for the birds and ultimately, The Rest Is Up To You.
Even musically, these guys wrote like a well-seasoned band for being only on their second record. Lead singer Matt Thiessen was only twenty-one years old when this was released, but his promise as a songwriter shined through with few naysayers to get in the way. This wasn’t just another pop-punk band writing songs in four-four time with power-chord jam after power-chord jam. Listen to Failure To Excommunicate and its depth and complexity and how greatly it differs from the easy to swallow (but still insanely catchy) power-pop single Pressing On. This is even the same band? These guys knew what they were doing from square one; no question about it. They even throw the likes of These Words Are Not Enough and For The Moments I Feel Faint into the mix – the former being a split-time alt rock journey into the realization that words to express praise don’t even slightly do justice to the reality of who the Lord is, and the later being an acoustic, open-hearted, no holds barred worship song, proclaiming Never underestimate my Jesus / You’re telling me that there’s no hope / I’m telling you you’re wrong.
Relient K is a large part of my musical foundation and is intermixed with me growing up, so this record, regardless of any other outside option, will always hold a very special place up on the shelf, differentiated from many others. Nostalgia says to give it a ten out of ten, though with tens – I almost feel guilty when I actually do it. Records need to be perfect to get that distinction. May The Horse Be With You has always been a little too silly for my taste, but really – that’s my only complaint. Dock a point. Case closed. Everything else is golden.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Pressing On / Breakdown