If you're a Christian like me, it's sometimes embarrassing to share
your CD collection with others. This is because so much of what comes
out of Nashville is little more than thinly disguised religious propaganda:
Bible verses put to lame rock music does not art make. One big exception
to this rule is the always-smart Switchfoot. Another conspicuous
one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others is Relient K, and
its Five Score And Seven Years Ago is yet one more slice of
excellently gutsy rock.
You might not even guess that Matt Thiessen and gang are Christians
until he offers up this prayer during "Devastation And Reform":
"Thank you, God for giving me the insight/So I might make these
wrongs right." Notice how he's not calling down fire and brimstone
on anyone during this breathless rock song? Instead, Thiessen is always
more likely to deal with the log in his own eye, rather than the speck
in someone else's.
Thiessen's musical confessions are couched in enticing and sometimes
surprising musical configurations. I particularly like the faux country
of "Faking My Own Suicide". It's also impossible to resist
loving "Forgiven", which hearkens back to War era
U2 with its skittering Edge-y guitar part and echoing piano.
Although this band has been linked with the pop punk genre - probably
mistakenly - it's easy to pick out old school Beach Boys vocals
finding their way into both "Pleading The Fifth" and "Must
Have Done Something Right", which are beatific elements light
years away from punk.
Best of all, this band's faith-in-music never panders to a Sesame
Street-y, everything's going to be alright always approach. For
example, "Forgiven" admits: "And I know that I have
been forgiven/And I just hope you can forgive me too." Thiessen
is certain about his standing with The Almighty. But this doesn't
mean his relationship to other humans fits together nicely, like simple
pieces in a pre-school-er's jigsaw puzzle.
I can heartily recommend Relient K to believers, agnostics, or atheists
alike because Thiessen's circumstances-put-to-song, whether positive
or negative, are universally relatable. To paraphrase that old bumper
sticker, Thiessen's not perfect, just forgiven. He's the kind of guy
anyone can like.
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