All Growed Up
Relient K is growing up. The punk rock band made their mark on the Christian music scene with energetic music and clever lyrics that played off of numerous pop culture references and the band's own youthful perspective. Their first three showed people that Christian music could not only be cool, it could flat-out rawk.
But as the band grew, musically and in their faith, maturity was inevitable. A letdown seemed unavoidable; how would their ultra-hipness translate to adulthood? Thankfully, "Mmhmm" is anything but a letdown.
Growth is evident all over the album, starting with the cover art, which shows three wilted flowers (their first three albums?) and a blossoming fourth one. Other areas of growth include the increased presence of lead singer Matt Thiessen's piano playing and more prevalent use of harmonies. Overall, the album is extremely well rounded and very difficult to pigeonhole because of the band's willingness to go much softer ("Let It All Out") and harder ("Life After Death and Taxes") than before.
The boys are growing lyrically, as well. There's not a pop culture reference to be found (a loss worth mourning for fans of previous songs like "May the Horse Be With You" and "Seventeen Magazine"). Instead, songwriter Thiessen goes deeper in exploring the challenges he faces in trying to be a faithful person ("Who I Am Hates Who I've Been," "This Week the Trend"). The band shows a surprising level of vulnerability considering the aggressiveness of their music.
What the band hasn't lost in this move to maturity is their ability to crank out catchy, hook-driven songs. Thiessen and Matt Hoopes' guitar riffs on Mmhmm are phenomenal and provide the energy for songs like "The One I'm Waiting For" and "More Than Useless."
Mmhmm is missing some of the humor of the previous three albums, the tradeoff is lyrics that are more honest and inviting. Now, instead of laughing with Relient K, we're singing with them.