Relient K – Mmhmm
Release Date – November 2, 2004
Recommended if you like: Switchfoot, Anberlin, Yellowcard
If you were an avid fan of the “Christian Rock” scene in the late 90s and early 00s, then you were very familiar with the witty, pop-culture drenched lyrics of Relient K. Whether it was “Sadie Hawkins Dance,” “Maybe It’s Maybeline,” or “Mood Rings,” you couldn’t help but swoon over Matt Thiessen’s cunning lyrics and the band’s power chord heavy music. However, the release of Mmhmm marked quite a few milestones for the CCM heart throbs. First of all, this was the band’s debut release on a major record label, Capitol Records. Secondly, it was the last record with founding member Brian Pittman. It also marked a pretty big step in a more mature direction both lyrically and musically for the band.
The lead single for the album, “Be My Escape,” sets the tone for the new grown up sound with the prominent piano playing throughout the verse and chorus of the song. “Be My Escape” also provided the band with their first mainstream single, being certified Platinum in November 2005.
“High of 75” follows next in line on the album and is credited as the only Christian single. This song certainly harkens back to their former albums with lyrics formed around the weather. The introduction of some synthesized drums and beats also make their way into this song, offering another new element in Relient K’s new sound.
As well as bringing in some new pop-friendly sounds into the new record, Relient K also used this album to experiment with a heavier punk sound, first shown off in their song “I So Hate Consequences.” In the second chorus of the song, you even hear some screaming vocals, which is unprecedented musically with Relient K. The most impressive part of this new release is how well the band moves from the heaviest chorus they’ve ever written to a bridge filled with piano and cello. The move back and forth from the chunky guitar chords to the piano chords make this arguably one of the best written songs on the album musically.
In the song “Which To Bury, Us Or The Hatchet?” the new sounds continue to come into play with the addition of a banjo. While Thiessen never releases the true meaning of the lyrics, many believe that this song was written in regards to the ending of his relationship with Katy Perry. The weight of the lyrics is very poignant, especially in the quiet parts of the song. “What happened to us? I heard that it’s me we should blame. What happened to us? Why didn’t you stop me from turning out this way?”
“Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” is undeniably Relient K’s biggest hit, reaching number 58 on the Billboard Top 100. The song is the epitome of what the album is trying to accomplish: a great mix of the rocking guitars and drums, the arpeggiated piano chords, and Matt Thiessen’s lyrics at their best.
It’s hard to believe that after nearly 8 1/2 years, this album has really stood the test of time in the Relient K discography and really served as a turning point in their career as more than just a quirky Christian rock band. Thiessen and company have since proved that they’re one of the best pop-punk bands writing music today.