Relient K – Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand

Relient K
Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand

Relient K is a highly prolific punk band. In almost five years, the band released five full-lengths, a 7″, four EPs, and been on many compilations. But while Relient K’s latest full-length album, Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right, But Three Do, was warmly received by fans, it was not as good as they had been expecting. Had Relient K run out of creativity?
This CD, the cleverly titled Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand, proves they haven’t, and in a resounding way. Deck… tops Two Lefts… so entirely that if RK weren’t packaging Deck WITH Two Lefts, Deck would outsell its predecessor. Gone is all the uptight production. Gone are all the overworked, contemplative songs. This is the heart-on-sleeve punk rock that made RK famous. Composed of seven remade carols and three original songs, this CD captures the happiness, introspectiveness, and even the hint of sadness that comes with Christmas.
As Relient K is a Christian band at heart, their opener is the perennial carol “Angels We Have Heard on High.” This old-school punk-rock blast is the highest-energy track here. The percussion is prominent and well done, highly improving the track. The three-part melodies contributed here are innovative simply amazing and a harbinger of what is to come. A synthesizer is introduced on “Deck the Halls,” which is something RK has never experimented with, and I can highly say they get an A for that experiment. They show off more impressive harmonies here as well. The coolest thing about “12 Days of Christmas” is the addition of some RK-penned lyrics, and as they’re hilarious, they’re a good addition.
The first of three piano-based songs appears with a medley of “Silent Night/Away in a Manger.” They render both songs with the beauty due them, making it by far the best rendition of either I’ve ever heard. And from a punk band. Now there’s something you don’t ever get to say. Their only new original song, “I Celebrate the Day” is a piano ballad as well, touching on the religion of Christmas in a non-preachy, comprehensible way. (Their other two originals are from a previous Christmas compilation). They experiment with vibes and sleigh bells here, and the drums once again contribute highly, which is a new step for RK.
“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” substitutes in a lot of new lyrics in a manic, frantic, dark punk version of the classic. Hard to imagine? Yeah…but it works anyway. It’s hands down the best track, as lead guitarist Matt Thiessen and rhythm guitar master Matt Hoopes provide some great lines. “Santa Clause is Thumbin’ to Town” is a comical jibe at Santa, and an average pop-punk song. “Handel’s Messiah (The Hallelujah Chorus)” is the side-splittingly funny, as a full choir sings background vocals behind a blazing pop-punk backdrop, creating a hilarious contrast. “I Hate Christmas Parties” is a mournful piano song about being broken up with at a Christmas party. It just makes you want to say “That sucks dude..So sorry for ya.”
Closing the CD (oh how sad that statement is to me) is a completely vocal version of “Auld Lang Syne,” which features, to the best of my ability, at least four singers or tracks of the same singer. A nice holiday message is delivered at the tail end of this, and that’s that, except for RK’s trademark, a hidden track. I’ll let you find put what it is for yourself. You’ll me.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Let this CD be the gift to yourself. I haven’t heard a pop-punk album be this good in a long, long time. And guess what! You get a whole other album with it! 25 ½ songs (counting the short hidden track) for 12 bucks! How much better does good punk music get?