All of Relient K's CDs RANKED
(Excluding every time they re-released that Christmas CD) (And EPs)
Now, granted, when I did my initial write up for this CD back in '07, I gave it a glowing review. But even in those paragraphs, a nagging discomfort with the album as a whole was apparent. Well, "One Forget and Not Slow Down, and Three Years Later," hindsight proves this one to be a quick detour for an otherwise stellar career. At least even when Matthew Thiessen is writing his least-great CD, he's clear about his intentions. With lyrics like "Why don't you come right out and say it?" and "And I know that it's so cliche..." we're made aware of the fact that this is Relient K's most direct, simplistic CD- not that we really needed to be told. But at least he warns us. Half the songs are about this girl he was crazy about. Good for him, bad for us. The whole thing just sounds kind of off. There are some good tracks mixed in with the bunch ("Faking My Own Suicide," "Give, and "Up and Up,"), but Five Score... just sounds off balance and haphazard. It's something they would have gotten away with earlier in the decade, but not by 2007. Some of the lyrics are signature Thiessen and stand their ground against some of his best writing, and some of it is literally awful, particularly anything relating to how in love he is with his girl. And then there's that over indulgent, eleven minute "Deathbed" song that had everyone in a tizzy because FINALLY Relient K got back to their Christian roots! What? What band had these people been listening to for seven years? Did anyone actually listen to this song? It was boring. So was this CD.
5. Relient K (2000) Does anyone remember what it was like when Relient K showed up? It was exciting. There was cool Christian rock music to listen to. It wasn't too heavy, it wasn't too weird, it was just fun. It was some kind of pop/punk rock that hadn't really touched Christian music yet at that point- at least not with the impact that Relient K was threatening to bring. "Hello McFly," "My Girlfriend," "Wake Up Call,"... Christian music was finally cool. And the dark, stellar "Softer to Me" was a glimpse of the honest, reflective writing that would become Thiessen's trademark. Not much substance; mostly fun and goofy, but still one of my favorite CDs to listen to when I'm feeling nostalgic.
4. The Anatomy of the Tongue and Cheek (2001) The excitement and anticipation surrounding this CD was unmatched at the time. And Relient K delivered. The songs were still goofy and fun, but Thiessen started developing his real songwriting chops on this one. The songs became more spiritual in nature, not just in name. Definitely as the album title describes, this one contains probably the most pop culture references of any Relient K CD to date (Thundercats, Mr. Ed, etc.), but songs like "For the Moment, I Feel Faint," were honest, sincere looks at faith and God. Thiessen has always had a knack for taking a tough personal issue and resolving it by song's end.
3. mmhmm (2004) Definitely their darkest album to date, mmhmm is hard to stick in third, but, really there are two others I enjoy more, somehow. So here it finds itself. Thiessen continued to mature as writer and wordsmith on this, their fourth CD. This was also the first CD of theirs not to include some sort of goofy, throw away track (Not even a hidden track!). Relient K meant business, this time. The lyrical maturity is all over it, and the music never sounded better. So many classic tracks came off of this one... I started to list them, but erased it when it just became a track listing. Really, the only drawback is (surprise, surprise) the one track devoted to whoever he was dating at this point ("My Girl's Ex-Boyfriend") which just sort of sounds bland and out of place on an otherwise dark, earthy release. Oh, and the fact that "More Than Useless" and "Who I am hates Who I've Been" sound pretty much identical. But I'm being picky.
2. Two Lefts Don't Make a Right... But Three Do (2003) This one is the perfect blend of fun and heart. Again, so many classic songs came off Relient K's third release. It's hard to sum this one up in words. It just has that X factor to it that makes it stellar. And it just hit at the perfect time. For me, it kind of marks the end of the "glory days" of Tooth & Nail and the like. Maybe it's just because I was 15 at the time it released, and it was just perfect for that time in my life. But nostalgia aside, this is the release that brought us the popular answer for "best Relient K song ever" in the form of "I Am Understood?" Really, Thiessen was unmatched in his ability to craft a song at this point. Only he could pull off a song with an opening lyric as simple and honest as "Sometimes it's embarrassing to talk to You" and then bring it home with a chorus so resounding, so heartbreakingly truthful, that seven years later, it still brings a tear to the eye. Aside from the rich spiritual themes found throughout, this was the last time Relient K played the goof-off card, and it was a fitting farewell.
1. Forget and Not Slow Down (2009) It was hard not to rank Two Lefts... number one, and harder still to rank a CD that hasn't even been out for a year yet higher than all the rest, but that is a testament to the treat that is Forget and Not Slow Down. In a nutshell, the girl Thiessen spend half of his last album ranting and raving about dumped him, and then he wrote his whole next album about it. Popular wisdom would say that the former release would be a lot better than the latter. But a breakup apparently made Thiessen a lot more reflective than did relationship bliss. It's a little bittersweet that it took a breakup to get him to write his best record of his career, but hey, it's the truth. Of all the Relient K CDs, this is the most honest, most heartbreaking, most hopeful, most spiritual, most conceptual, and most sincere. Somewhere in every Relient K record, Thiessen likes to state his intentions. This one is simply therapy. Without even trying, Thiessen wears his heart on his sleeve with an album that is written like a fifteen-track prayer. For those experiencing this kind of loss, it is therapy too. And for those in happy relationships, it provides perspective with lyrics like "I don't need a soul to hold. Without you, I'm still whole. You and life remain beautiful." The contrast between Five Score... and Forget... is so stark, so drastic, it's hard to believe they sit next to each other on the discography shelf. It took a poor outing to give us all the details about his self-proclaimed "Best Thing," but we find out he's "Over It" on his best one to date.
Good blog! You had some great thoughts in here on one of my favorite bands in the industry.
My ranking would be like this:
6. Relient K
3. Two Lefts
2. Five Score
1. Forget and Not Slow Down
I am still really attached to Five Score, but that might be because I have a lot of memories attached to the songs. It's hard for me to even rank these, because I like all of the albums so much
3. Josh Taylor said...
Mary- I know what you mean! That's how I feel about "Two Lefts..." Can't really put my finger on it but it's got some great memories attached to it :D
Ian- What opinions don't you agree with? Our lists look really similar!
Well, haven't listened to every Relient K album but i'd say we're on the same lines, i would deffinitly put Forget... at the top... I remember the first time i listened to the album, without really even hearing the lyrics, jsut taking in the feelings of the song i went "wow, this is such a mature way to deal with loss"... and that's what good music will do, no matter what langauge someone speaks they'll get the same message from the song because of it's feel, and i feel that almost every song on Forget... does that.
I remember going to the christian bookstore after school when I was a senior in high school to pick up the new FIF album (All the Hype...) on release day, and also picking up a new release from a new punk band on Gotee while there - so I can say I got the first Relient K album on release day. (Actually I got all of these albums on release day, with the exception of mmhmm, which I didn't get until the following Friday) My order would be drastically different than yours, however. I would agree with Forget... at the top, but after that I would go with Anatomy... at #2, Five Score... at #3, mmhmm at #4, S/T at #5, and Two Lefts... at #6. Forget and not slow down pretty much speaks for itself, with it's maturity and diversity. I remember the excitement that came with the musical step forward that was The Anatomy of Tongue in Cheek, and I still feel that excitement when I listen to it to this day. Five Score and Seven Years Ago is probably the Relient K album I've listened to the most times, and it has never gotten old for me (although I'll admit that Deathbed doesn't have a lot of value after the first listen). Mmhmm is a very solid album from start to finish; it was a step forward in production and musicianship, but in a discography this strong it just ends up as a sort of middle of the road album. The debut is what it is, a fun album from a young, energetic, clever bunch of guys. As far as Two Lefts don't make a right...but three do, I liked that album the first few spins, but it just didn't have a whole lot of staying power for me. It's not an album I find myself going back to at all today (although I agree that "I am understood?" is a good song). That's my take, from someone who's been following the band since they hit the national scene over 10 years ago now!
I have to disagree with the placing by the blogger. Granted I am not the biggest fan of Relient K, but I am ranking these albums based on artistry and maturity. Forget and Not Slown is by far RK's mellowest punk album and feels like a continuation of songs like "Must Have Done Something Right" or "Forgiven" in a musical sense from the album Five Score and Seven Years Ago. Not a bad thing, but I feel the longevity of members John Warne and John Schneck in the band since after the release of Mmhmm has slowed them down as far as energy and charisma goes. Sorry to say, but I feel Brian Pittman and Dave Douglas' departure a few years ago had a semi-bitter ending to it. Regardless, here's my list:
1. Mmhmm - To me, Relient K was at the pinnacle of their career when they released this album. It showed a more serious and somewhat haunting side of Matt Thiessen, but still kept it fun and energetic all the way through.
2. Five Score and Seven Years Ago - Honestly, I was skeptical about this album at first glance because the first single "Must Have Done Something Right" seemed kind of corny and too radio-friendly. Thankfully, the rest of the album did not hold true to that song.
3. The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek - Despite its release being 2 years after I had graduated high school, it ranks in being one of my favorite Christian punk releases of 2001. Several great songs like "We're Going Down in Flames," "Failure to Excommunicate," "I'm Lion-O," and "Those Words Are Not Enough."
4. Two Lefts Don't Make a Right, But Three Do - I normally would have ranked this higher, but the reason I didn't is because all of the band members were all well into their 20's when this album released. I found it a little cliche to write songs about mood rings, staying inside to listen to Jefferson Airplane, and the seemingly "Sadie Hawkins Dance" sequel "In Love With the 80's (Pink Tux to the Prom)." It has its moments, but not as memorable as the albums ranked above it.
5. Self-Titled - Had I not heard of Relient K until they soared to the big time with Mmhmm, their self titled effort would not be on my list due to my lack of knowledge of its sound. Most young bands don't normally peak after one album, and this release was no exception. I did find it funny though how RK eventually quit playing "My Girlfriend" live due to the notion that they were getting sick of hearing the same song being shouted out at every concert.
6. Forget and Do Not Slow Down - First off, let me say that I do not own this album, but I have heard enough of it to make a judgment call on it. I actually was excited about this album seeing as Ethan Luck was going to be filling the drummer's spot. However, he was only allowed to play as hard as the rest of the music was, which means he had to tone down his style from his days with The Dingees. Many enjoyed the change, but it just makes me yearn for more of the "Mmhmm" era.
No, this is the order.
5 Two Lefts
4 Forget and Not Slow Down
1 Five Score
13. Josh Taylor said...
I want to respond to all of these comments but I don't know where to start- I love all the feedback. Keep these coming and in a few days, I'll compile of JfH Viewers list of the Relient K CDs ranked. sounds like it'd be very different from mine!
I will say to Drew, commenter number 6, that a list of the best Relient K songs would be fun to put together...hmmmm....
15. Bradley said...
5. Forget and Not Slow Down
3. Relient K
2. Five Score
1. Two Lefts
i just don't think of F&NSD as much of an enjoyable listen all the way through. it has a few good songs, but it's also too short in length. they overdid the intros and outros. i like their previous pop/punk sound better.
and i also disagree about deathbed. deathbed really shows off matt's writing skills. i mean, that song is awesomely written.
4.Five Score and Seven Years Ago
5.Forget and not Slow Down
1) Mmhmm - this was the first Relient K cd that I owned. I loved every moment of it.
2) Two Lefts Don't Make A Right... But Three Do
3) The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek
4) Forget and Not Slow Down
5) Five Score and Seven Years Ago
6) Relient K
Favorite Relient K Songs (of all time): Come Right Out and Say It, The Best Thing, Forgivin, Must Have Done Something Right, Deathbed, The Scene and the Herd, The Lining is Silver, Who I Am Hates Who I've Been, Hope for Every Fallen Man, I Celebrate the Day, Chap Stick..., Mood Rings, Forward Motion, College Kids, Getting Into You, Be My Escape, High of 75, I So Hate Consequences, Which to Bury, Us or the Hatch/Let it all Out, Less is More, Wake Up Call, Sadie Hawkins Dance... there are prob a lot more I'm forgetting lol
5) Two Lefts...
3) Five Score...
1) Forget and not...
we should do this for switchfoot next. that would be interesting.
6-Forget and Not Slow Down
4-Anatomy of Tongue and Cheek
6. Five Score
5. Relient K
4. Forget and Not Slow Down
2. Two Lefts...
1. The Anatomy of the Tongue In Cheek
The Anatomy was the first stuff I ever heard from rK and it will always be my favorite. Also, you can tell that I tend to like rK's older stuff a little more. Don't get me wrong, the new stuff is great, but not quite the same as when I was in high school. Relient K's music basically defined my musical taste throughout high school so that is why two lefts and the anatomy made my top 2.
1. Two Lefts - A Timeless Classic
2. Forget and Not Slow Down
3. Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek
4. Five Score
6. Relient K
Two Lefts is perfection.Every song stands out, the song writing is beyond excellent, the music is super-complex. I discover something new in this album all the time and I've been listening to it since it came out. Super fun, catchy, plenty of heart. Best RK album
Mr. Josh Taylor, a list of the best songs (25 best maybe? 10?) would be really cool. Consider this a vote for Chapstick... and mood rings... and pink tux... wow.
Once again, Two Lefts proves to be their best, hands down. If you know how to play guitar you also realize how extrememly intricate the music was on this record as compared to the others.
This is hard to rank because I really like them all...
2. Forget and Not Slow Down
3. Anatomy of the Tongue and Cheek
4. Two Lefts Don't Make a Right...But Three Do
5. Five Score and Seven Years Ago
6. Relient K
There actually is a hidden track on MMHMM by the way. It's before the first track. You have to put the CD in and hold down the back/rewind button for a few seconds.
Forget and Not Slow Down? Thought this was a Christian music website. I am being proven wrong more and more each day. :(
37. Nathaniel said...
Iím pretty sure Relient K threw in a reference to God in Forget And Not Slow Down.
But thatís neither here nor there.
My list (which I believe trumps everyone elseís I might add) is as follows (no disrespect Josh)
3. Five Score
4. Forget And Not Slow Down
5. Two Lefts
6. Self titled
2. Two lefts..
3. Forget and not slow down
5. 5 score...
6. Relient K
I agree with you Carter.... which then means you're wrong?? (haha... it's a paradox)
1. The Anatomy
2. Self- Titled
3. Five Score
4. Two Lefts
6. Forget and Not Slow Down
45. Josh+Taylor said...
Tallying up the results! Expect a blog post soon :)
6. Relient K
5. Two lefts...
4. Forget and Not...
3. The Anatomy...
2. 5 Score...
1. Five score
4. Two Lefts...
5. Forget & Not slow down
6. Relient K
I thought you were way to harsh on Five Score. Probably because that was their first album I listened to. Forget and Not Slow down hasn't really grown on me yet. It still seems pretty boring. Probably should listen to it more to get into it.
That being said i love all their music
You have some good points, but I disagree with a few: I don't consider F&NSD quite a spiritual album. It's a great album both lyrically and musically, BUT the big turn-of for me was it's lack of spiritual content. And Deathbead is just epic...it's such and emotional, beautiful and strong song!!! I really liked Five Score, but it is true some of the songs are cheesy and corny. So here's my own rank:
1-The Bird and the Bee sides [Yes, this is my favorite production of them. There's something so fresh and different and funny and random about this EP that just makes me love it]
2-Mmhmm [Five Score and Mmhmm are so close to me that I almost made a tie between them. But Mmhmm came second just for the way this album's song showed Thiessen's voice versatility and because of the strong spiritual content of this one]
3-Five Score... [Aside the cheesiness of certain songs, Up and Up, Deathbed, Devastation..., Faking..., Give, and many others of this album makes it one of their most spiritual albums. So many of these songs have made me grow. Plus it has the always amusing Crayons can melt on Us for I all Care that always makes me laugh when it pops out in my iPod ]
4- Forget... [For the reason I said above. I LOVE the music, I LOVE the lyrics, but the lack of spirituality disappointed me]
5-The AnatomyÖ [Quite nice album]
6- Two Lefts... [Nice album, but not THAT great.]
7-Self titled album [The only song I liked was My Girlfriend. This is the only RK album I consider as awful]
All in all, I really like most of Relient Kís albums.
These guys went from a band that had lyrics that were Christ-centered to a band that you can only defend by stating "I think they referenced God at least once". Others are stating they are ranking them not on lyrical content but on how good the music sounds. I don't even have words to say to that...