Positively pop punk, by God

The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek (Gotee Records)
Relient K

By Kevin Gibson

One thing that separates a pop punk band from a really good pop punk band is a sense of humor. I knew as soon as I heard "Marilyn Manson Ate My Girlfriend" from Relient K's 2000 debut album that it had the humor part covered.

A friend saw the band in concert not long afterward and, speaking with a couple of the members of the band afterward, asked if they could think of any other punk bands they could take in a fight. "Pansy Division" was the quick answer.

This is made funnier, perhaps, when you learn Relient K is not just a pop punk band or a pop punk band with a sense of humor or even a pop punk band with a sense of humor and a positive outlook, but a [italics]Christian[ital] pop punk band with a sense of humor and a positive outlook.

Everybody following me?

The punk purists might immediately say this band sounds a little too polished to ever be given the label "punk," even if the word pop does come before it. Fair enough, but I think the sense of humor takes Relient K wherever it wants to go. "Pressing On," the first song on the band's newest release (not counting the appropriately titled "Kick-off"), comes forth as an upbeat song of strength in the face of adversity before culminating in a testimony to the faith and love they find in God. Then Relient K wraps it all up with the couplet, "We're onto something good here / And we're gonna make it after all."

There aren't many bands who will toss a Mary Tyler Moore reference into a musical prayer, now are there?

If songs like "Sadie Hawkins Dance" come off as a little trite, one still can't help but like fun tunes like "Maybe It's Maybelline" (about laying blame) or "May the Horse Be With You," which is an exercise in wordplay about, well, being a horse. Hey, it takes guts to write lines like "Lead me to water, but not to the track / Show me a saddle and I'll say, 'Hey, get off my back.'"

No, it isn't religious, but not all Relient K songs are. Some are just goofy and others are just positive, and that's a good thing. Just for fun, I'm not even going to tell you about the track titled "Failure to Excommunicate." Use your imagination, or buy the album.

Find out more about Relient K at www.gotee.com.