July 27, 2016 Relient K – Air For Free (Album Review)
Usually hard to find, originality is huge within the music scene. Occasionally, a band will come along that is the definition of a nonconformist, or maybe they were there the whole time. Eighteen years ago in Canton, Ohio, magic happened, and one of the best bands around was born. Relient K can be described as a lot of things, but something they are not is mainstream. Quirky, talented, bright, and definitely creative, Matthew Thiessen and Matthew Hoopes initially brought Relient K to life in hopes of creating Rock music; eventually shifting through their later albums into something that is sometimes hard to explain and even understand. Named after Hoopes’ car, a Plymouth Relient K, the band writes and records music that sounds like no other. With the release of their debut full-length, 2000’s Relient K, some recognition was gathered, but not nearly as much as what was about to come.
Through a plethora of lineup changes, an immense amount of albums, countless tours and projects, their music has always rung true to the ways of Relient K. Insane to believe, the band has been split apart so many times only to stick together through the love of music and passion of Thiessen and Hoopes. Having written songs covering just about all topics, this group has some of the most fun and upbeat music around. Through tunes like “Faking My Own Suicide,” “Sadie Hawkins Dance,” “Deathbed,” “Mood Rings,” “Jefferson Aero Plane,” “Savannah,” and “Chap Stick, Chapped Lips, and Things Like Chemistry,” there is something for everyone when they listen to a good, old-fashion Relient K album. Always seeming like there is no possible way to outdo their music, the guys take it a step further and completely smash anything they have put out in the past, giving it a run for their money.
Now three long years after the release of their last record, Collapsible Lung, Relient K are back with a bang on their new album Air For Free. Released July 22nd, via Mono vs Stereo, while the entirety of the album is pure perfection and packed with sixteen fantastic tracks, there are a couple songs that completely stand out and out-weight the rest.
Air For Free kicks off with “Bummin’,” a captivating piece that is ultimately catchy, memorable, and an instant hit for anyone who is listening. Soaring with their usually colorful qualities, this piece shows the true colors of Relient K, and will transport their audience into an awestruck zone only ready to launch them into the rest of the album. Jumping ahead to track three, “Mrs. Hippopotamuses’” gives recognition to Ohio, taking pride in where the boys are from; home truly is where your heart is. Skipping over some other good ones, the title track, “Air For Free,” switches up their sound once again; a staple of theirs. Highly recommended, this song is a wholly unique venture, giving the album the slightest bit more depth.
Climbing back to their roots, “God” touches on their faith, an attribute that has always been a major part of Relient K. With lyrics “I believe in love and I believe in us,” listeners feel the raw passion and love that went into this piece, filling all with warmth and serenity. Followed by the most interesting piece off of Air For Free thus far, “Elephants On Parade” is entirely inviting, fresh, eccentric, and brilliant. Sounding right out of a circus, this song is one for the books; another sure-to-be favorite for their entire audience. Closing in on the end of the record, “Marigold” is a song that will break one’ heart, but is completely charming at the same time. Telling a tale of flowers for Mom, this piece compares oneself to a Marigold; a “garden-variety weed.” Wholly poetic, this song is sensitive and richly textured.
For any listener, new and old, one can say Air For Free is blatantly satisfying and obviously a Relient K album. Although they do not have a definite sound, anyone can tell the band apart from others by their uniqueness and ability to grab the attention of all those around. Taking pride in who they are and where they come from, Relient K is bigger and better than ever. Hard to believe they have topped their last record, the response has been nothing but positive; creativity, dedication, and pure passion truly does pay off. CrypticRock gives Relient K’s Air For Free 5 out of 5 stars.