(Originally posted at AbsolutePunk.net)
Only seven months after their latest studio recording, was it really necessary for Relient K to re-release their four-year-old Christmas album with a handful of new tracks thrown in? Maybe not, but who said fun treats had to be necessary?
The boys begin with the classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” a smooth 6/8 introduction complete with harmonies, sprinklings of bells, and underlying piano, setting the tone for the album: the pop punk Relient K that we love, dipped in that delightful Christmas spirit. A brilliant rendition of “Sleigh Ride” builds slowly from Matt Thiessen’s vocals and light piano touch into a Vince Guaraldi-esque drum pattern and a catchy bell hook that will be stuck in heads through the holidays and long after. The pop-punk beat and harmonies kick in, all the while keeping us swaying to the swing rhythm.
We are soon jolted back to the Relient K of 2003 with “Angels We Have Heard on High” in their older punk-influenced style, from the invariable snare hit on beats 2 and 4 to the quick, steady muted guitar chords, and, of course, the pleasant harmonious echoes of “Glo-o-o-ria.” Soothing piano-led renditions of “Silent Night” and “Away in a Manger” lead into “I Celebrate the Day,” a beautiful, worshipful ballad to the one whose birth is celebrated, in which Thiessen reflects on his life’s progress (or lack of it) over the last year and the hope offered by Jesus.
“I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas” is a fun throwback to the retro-RK punk style and their somewhat abandoned goofy side. “Boxing Day” begins to close the album by reflecting on the annual post-Christmas sadness of the passing holiday season but finding hope by remembering that “Christmas makes way for spring.” And as a final reminder that Relient K haven’t quite forgotten their silly “hidden track” side, “Good King Wenceslas” is a hilarious offering of falsetto and ukulele.
In forty-eight minutes, Relient K remind us of all the things we’ve loved about them over the years: the catchy pop-punk layered with bells and piano, the pleasant harmonies, the clever instrumental variety, and lyrics that bring smiles to our faces and, in this case, a Christmas spirit to our hearts. And by reminding us of where they’ve come and where they are now, they also send us off looking forward to the next full-length studio release.
Merry Christmas, indeed.