Relient K features clever lyrics, flow on ‘Air for Free’

by SERGIO MADRID//Staff Writer

It’s been awhile since Relient K has made any buzz.

It has been even longer since Relient K fans had much to buzz about. But with the summer release of, “Air for Free,” all that has changed.

The heavily anticipated eighth studio album had fans guessing what side of Relient K they would see. Their last album, “Collapsible Lung,” featured an electronic-heavy sound that did not sit well with loyal fans. 

Matt Thiessen, lead-singer and songwriter, has made a name for himself with his cleverly worded and, at times, quirky lyrics, that sound familiar even if it is your first time hearing them.

Every band has a bad album, usually attempting to reach for a different sound or trying new things. But “Collapsible Lung” wasn’t a complete bust, having two hits in “Lost Boy,” and “Don’t Blink.”

Earlier in the year, Relient K dropped the single, “Look on Up,” which was met with major praise. Though it did not show up on the full album, fans all over were pleased to hear Relient K sound like Relient K once again.

“Look on Up” enticed, with a pleasant melody and heart-felt words, with lyrics such as,  “Well look on up, to the sky. I wonder why I put a filter between beauty and my eyes.”

Not long after dropping “Look on Up,” Relient K released “Bumming,” the lead single on “Air for Free,” on April 13. And the crowd did go wild.

As “Look on Up” had enticed fans, “Bumming,” had rekindled the excitement in them.

“Broken downtown down on Wedgwood and 8th, yeah I’m bleeding like a heartache, get ready to break. And then on down the road comes another mistake. Try hard as I might, I can’t quite get it right. I’m bummin’!”

Fast-paced, guitar heavy, with a catchy chorus has been Relient K’s calling card. Thiessen is known for his subtle-though-clever lyrics.

“Wave goodbye as I outgrow the shadow of Peter Pan, it’s time to be a man.” Lyrics from the fifth song on the album, “Man,” make it a well-constructed poem, letting the listener know it’s OK to let go of the boy.

Personally, I believe Thiessen’s real genius comes from the way he formats a song. His melodies mix well with his voice. The transitions he creates flow instead of crash. All of this makes for the perfect formula that has led Relient K to their lasting success.

Early examples of this are songs such as “Deathbed,” or the transition from “Which to Bury; Us or the Hatchet,” into “Let It All Out.”

These songs come from the peak of Relient K’s existence, when they released back-to-back masterpieces.

Those albums are “Mmhmm,” released in 2004, and “Five Score and Seven Years Ago,” in 2007.

Within “Air for Free,” Thiessen’s brilliance is best personified by “Runnin’,” which is the third to last track on the album.

Even though I wouldn’t consider “Air for Free” to be a masterpiece, it is certainly a step back in the right direction for a band as resilient as Relient K.

I give “Air for Free” 3 out of 5 stars.

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