Five Score and Seven Years Ago
At times sophisticated, redeeming, and preposterously silly, Relient K crafted a masterpiece of punk-based power pop on Five Score and Seven Years Ago, their fifth album in — guess how long. The quintet's mature yet playful fare fell far from the fleeting superficiality that has plagued dozens of sound-alike groups. Frontman Matt Thiessen once again showed his knack for constructing a cohesive yet wildly diverse album of radio rock that satisfies every camp, from the band's grassroots Christian fans to the thousands who were introduced to them on the Vans Warped Tour. The album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, a handsome feat considering the bandmembers still considered themselves "under the radar" at the time. One of the most striking differences between this and their early work is the appearance of love songs that end up happy. Lead single "Must Have Done Something Right" is a buoyant ode to healthy relationships using the band's trademark wit: "We should get jerseys/'Cause we make a good team." Tracks like "Up and Up," "I'm Taking You with Me," and "The Best Thing" are more earnest and positive than fans may typically expect. Other highlights include "Faking My Own Suicide" and the 11-minute album closer, "Deathbed," the latter of which was compared to every theatrical rock epic from the Who's "A Quick One While He's Away" to "Bohemian Rhapsody." Producer Howard Benson (Hoobastank, My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects) added a radio-friendly sheen to every track. Rather than use the genre as a crutch, Relient K showed that a punk-pop record could truly be innovative and memorable with Five Score.