Band Relient K will always hold a special place in my heart as I stumbled upon them at the beginning of my college years. I have many memories connected to several of their songs as they helped me through school, and then transition to “adulting.” Lead singer, and main lyricist Matt Thiessen, has always had a way with words, and his sharp wit paired with power pop/punk has always connected with me. Many times he sang of frustrations and topics that I was struggling with, and could say, “me too!” Here is my attempt to rank their catalogue of eight full length non-Christmas or b-side albums beginning with my least liked, though near anything Relient K has produced is gold. Here goes…
8. Collapsible Lung
Like most longtime fans, I was disappointed with this one. I think I get the overall story that it was trying to tell of a believer gone astray…searching for love in all the wrong places. It just didn’t feel like true Relient K, and the reason was most songs were written, or co-written with mainstream pop hit makers. As such they lack a certain “Theisseness,” and except for songs “Don’t Blink,” “Lost Boy,” and “Collapsible Lung” I rarely revisit this one. However, all this said, “Collapible Lung” is a terrific tune sure to make any of my favorite Relient K playlists.
7. Relient K
The first Label release for the Ohio natives brings many pop culture references and raucous power punk. I still listen to this one semi-often, though it’s a little rough around the edges. It maintains a certain amount of charm and nostalgia for me. “Softer to Me” is a highlight song, as are “Hello Mcfly,” and “Wake Up Call.”
6. Five Score And Seven Years Ago
This one came along in 2007 as I was starting to lose interest in the band and my music taste was expanding. Five Score reignighted my love for the band as they began using more piano and heading down a more pop/punk direction sound wise. Songs “I Need You,” “Up and Up,” and “Deathbed” are my favorites here.
5. Forget And Not Slow Down
I was slow to warm to this album as I just wasn’t in a place to receive what is largely a break up album topic wise. It’s one I bought and listened to then ironically forgot about for awhile only to re-listen later and really started to appreciate it. Songs “Forget And Not Slow Down,” “I Don’t Need A Soul,” “Candlelight,” “Sahara,” and “Savannah” are the cream of the crop.
4. The Anatomy Of The Tongue In Cheek
This one is just plain fun and the one I probably listen to in the car with wife and kids most often. The kids of course love “Sadie Hawkins Dance” and I still rock songs “Pressing On,” and “Maybe It’s Maybeline.” This is also the bands first foray into some really good ballads like “Those Words Are Not Enough,” “For The Moments I Feel Faint,” and “Less is More.” A more mature (but not too mature) second offering that shows some good growth musically and lyrically.
3. Air For Free
Now we reach the very close top three of their discography. In fact these last three albums were so close that at one point I had each of them in the top spot before settling here. Album Air For Free is a triumphant return for them as they had taken nearly 3 years between releases. It felt even longer because Collapsible Lung was so unlike their previous output, and ultimately their weakest overall album in my opinion. This one released in 2016, and it is chock full of bouncy piano based pop rock songs. Overall it’s probably their most balanced, and mature work. “Marigold” is my favorite tune, but I also enjoy “Local Construction,” “Cat,” “Mrs. Hippopatomuses” “Empty House,” “Flower,” and “Prodigal.”
This one cemented my love for the band as it hit me right where I was, and with what I needed at the time. It felt like Thiessen had access to my journal and I could totally identify with what was saying. Songs like “The One I’m Waiting For,” “Be My Escape,” “High of 75,” “I So Hate Consequences,” “Let It All Out,” and “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” still resonate to this day. Shockingly, I realized just a few days ago that this one wasn’t my favorite album by them anymore. It had held that title since its release over 10 years ago but it has lost the title of my overall favorite to…
1. Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do
It was a tough call but ultimately there are just too many great songs on Two Lefts…to keep it from the top of the Relient K heap. “Chapstick…” “Mood Rings,” “Falling Out,” “Forward Morion,” “In Love with the 80’s,” “I Am Understood?” and “Getting Into You,” among others, make this album a classic that I listen to often. This is the album I’ve heard most, and the one I return to again and again.
Well, what about you? Did I get it right? How would you rank then differently? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your ranking in the comments below!