The Bird and the Bee Sides
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2008, Volume 15, #7
Written by David Gregory Schlegel
Wed July 2, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
Itís hard to take Relient K seriously, especially after it contributed the theme song to a Veggie Tales movie involving pirates. With its new EP The Bird and the Bee Sides, however, the band has produced its strongest performance yet.
The Bird and the Bee Sides is a sharp departure from Relient Kís old, Something Corporate/New Found Glory-brand of pop-punk. Throughout the EP, a variety of new styles are showcased. These range from the whirling, metal-ish, harmonized guitar solos of The Last, The Lost, The Least to the soft, acoustic Curl Up and Die to the ska-like, NOFX flavor of No Reaction. Reasons for the bandís shift in direction currently are unknown, but they likely can be attributed to Relient Kís altered line-up. Drummer Ethan Luck is a newcomer to the outfit, while multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Schneck and bass player John Warne joined the group just prior to the recording of last yearís set Five Score and Seven Years Ago. It is refreshing to see the ensemble experimenting and pushing itself in different directions, and the end result is that Relient K has created some surprisingly strong tracks.
The first four songs on The Bird and the Bee Sides are undoubtedly the best cuts on the endeavor. Schneckís banjo-picking mixes with slides of a steel guitar to provide an indication to listeners that Relient K took a different approach to the set. The Scene and Herd seems to switch back to more familiar ground, though it boasts a tighter, crisper sound. Evoking a very different, almost folk-ish feeling, the acoustic At Least Weíve Made It This Far brightens the album considerably. It, along with Curl Up and Die, sounds like something that would appear in a good indie film. The Last, The Lost, The Least is a very catchy hybrid of metal, pop, and punk that could be very popular in Japan. Watch out, Pierrot!
Unfortunately, despite its solid, early material, the other songs on The Bird and the Bee Sides either fall flat or simply are unfinished works that leave a lot of potential lying on the table. There Was No Thief is by far the weakest track on the EP. Melodramatic lyrics combined with theatrical build-ups make it cheesier than a tune by My Chemical Romance that had been translated for a Broadway performance. Lesser missteps also ruin some of the otherwise perfectly good tunes on the EP. I Just Want You to Know seems like it might work until itís trashed by another unnecessary, over-the-top moment. Similarly, The Lining Is Silver is marred not only by lackluster lyrics, but also by its annoying AFI-inspired shouting.
The biggest mistake that Relient K made on The Bird and the Bee Sides was to not expand upon the ideas that it expressed during No Reaction and Beam Me Up Scotty. Instead, it opted to include atrocious selections, such as There Was No Thief. Beam Me Up Scotty, in particular, is a really unique song. The act of combining quirky lyrics with a style that crosses 311 with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink Floyd makes it one of the more memorable tracks on the endeavor.
Still, there is hope for Relient K. The Bird and the Bee Sides is the outfitís best collection of songs to date, and overall, listening to the effort is an enjoyable experience. The two-disc, 26-track collection not only finds the band expanding its horizons, but it also assaults music industry regulations regarding the typical length of an EP. If Relient K continues this trend and tightens up its stylistic approach, the group could be well on its way toward a making an amazing album.
Of Further Interest...
The Bird and the Bee Sides is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box