Sound — 6
After nearly one and a half years since their previous album has been released, Ohio based spiritual punk rock band Relient K came back with their fresh and hopeful effort "MMHMM." This new album -- with 14 brand new songs -- is something unusual for the band with patented pop/punk approach on their '02 and '03 releases. On "MMHMM" soft and melodic tunes are perfectly balanced together with fast and powerful punk riffs with a slight metal touch. Though overall they are getting back to the proven formula of measured and plain music, but with a lot more experience. The worst thing about this album is that annoying feeling of dej vu -- you've probably heard these or similar tunes before from millions of other pop-punk bands out there. The feeling that bad to consider most songs weak and unoriginal -- what's new for Relient K has been done to death by other bands actually. "MMHMM" has plenty of instruments and effects -- there are a lot of clean piano sounds, much more than on the previous releases. Second track "Be My Escape" besides great melody contains very impressive mixture of staccato guitar riffs with these pensive piano tunes. Pure pop-punk "I So Hate Consequences" features beautiful tandem of piano and Matt Thiessen's vocals in the outro. "Let It All Out" is wholy performed as smooth acoustic ballad. The haviest track on "MMHMM" is "Life After Death & Taxes" with its grinding guitar riffs and Matt's screaming voice, although it -- as most part of the tracks -- features clean melodic bridge. And the final "When I Go Down" is yet another soft melancholy ballad with acoustic bridge.
Lyrics — 8
The main direction of the album's lyrics was determined by the Relient K's stylistics -- Christian music. So, on "MMHMM" the lyrics are mostly addressed to God. Besides, their lyrics matured as well as their music. Formerly there was a lot of nonsensical and plainly talentless themes, but on "MMHMM" we have a quantum leap that Relient K has made in terms of lyrics. Of course Matt Thiessen couldn't keep just one style on the album, usual reckless/funny songs are here as well. For example, "My Girl's Ex-Boyfriend" with its gratitude to a certain dude for his folly -- "He's the guy/That you should feel sorry for/He had the world but he though that he wanted more..."
Overall Impression — 6
Thus, with this album we've got extremely good product, though nothing exceptional. With "MMHMM" Relient K prove the adequate place in the Christian genre hierarchy. This release and its favourable reports demonstrate the demand for the Christian music over again. Once again, this album doesn't confine within one way -- instead it has soft melodic ballads, fast powerful punk tunes with metal germs. Apparently, Relient K's "MMHMM" is one of their best works to date, though not the best on the whole pop-punk scene.