In 2003, Relient K made their Christmas project debut with Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand, a slender but witty deluxe EP of sorts that was only made available packaged with their current release at the time. The EP has resurfaced a time or two since, and now the 10-track project has been repackaged and re-released with seven additional songs and a new title. For those who never got their hands on the original, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer is an absolute gem.
A mix of where Relient K has been and where they're headed stylistically is captured here, with brand new exclusives making the original release even better. Fans might not be too keen on double-dipping for six new songs ("In Like A Lion" was previously on The Apathetic EP), but the new tracks are too good to pass on. The new cuts include fresh takes on traditionals like "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Sleigh Ride" and even an old, rare classic, "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas" - which fits in perfectly with the RK style. "Boxing Day," which uses its title to play on the obscure post-Christmas Canadian holiday, is a new original that serves as a lament for passing of another Christmas, but with an expression of hope for the new year ahead. Coupled with the equally unique, equally pensive "Merry Christmas, Here's To Many More," these tracks add to the emotional side of Christmas, musically falling in line with what the band's been doing as of late. However, because a little over half of the album is four years old, with the oldest track being a significant six years old, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer might seem to be more of a Christmas hits record than a consistent, fluid, concept album. There's an immense difference between the sound of "Santa Claus Is Thumbing To Town" from 2001 and, for example, the new album opener, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." It almost doesn't seem like the same band anymore. For continuity's sake, a new EP may have made more sense given the band's musical maturation over the years, but on the other hand, it is rather nice to have all of the band's Christmas offerings in one place. The end result, I suppose, is a bit of a double-edged sword.
No matter how you slice this Christmas delight, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer is still a fun and diverse holiday venture. From capturing the fun and spirit of Christmas ("Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Sleigh Ride," "12 Days of Christmas"), to the more isolated and emotional musings of the season ("Merry Christmas, Here's To Many More," "I Hate Christmas Parties," "Boxing Day"), and still yet to the most important part - the birth of Christ (the incredibly inspiring "I Celebrate The Day," "Silent Night / Away In A Manger"), Relient K approaches Christmas from just about every angle for a well-rounded celebration. Being a little rusty in its compilation, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer feels just a bit askew (perhaps approaching the project with the new tracks plus acoustic renditions of some of their past recordings may have helped pull it together as an all-new concept), but still manages to be the Christmas rock album of the decade and all-around one of the better modern Christmas projects you can find today.- PReview date: 9/2/07, Reviewed 10/21/07 by John DiBiase
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