Band: Relient K
Album: The Bird and the Bee Sides
Genre: Pop Punk/Rock
1. Where Do I Go From Here
2. The Scene and Herd
3. At Least We Made it This Far
4. The Last, The Lost, The Least
5. The Lining is Silver
6. There Was No Thief
7. No Reaction
8. Curl up and Die
9. You’ll Always Be My Best Friend
10. There Was Another Time in My Life
12. I Just Want To Know You
13. Bee Your Man
14. Up and Up [Acoustic]
15. Wit’s All Been Done Before
16. The Vinyl Countdown
17. For The Band
18. Nothing Without You
19. A Penny Loafer Saved is a Penny Loafer Earned
20. Five Iron Frenzy is Either Dead or Dying
21. Five Iron Frenzy is Either Dead or Dying [Ska Version]
22. Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been [Acoustic]
23. Here I Go [Demo]
24. The Stenographer [Demo]
25. Jefferson Aeroplane [Demo]
26. Hope For Every Fallen Man [Acoustic]
Upon first receiving the new Relient K album, it became quickly obvious that reviewing this disc would have to be a bit different than my normal work here on UTG. This was mainly due to the fact that I like to discuss almost every track and this disc has 26 songs. 26! That’s both awesome and nearly overwhelming. The disc, The Bird and The Bee Sides is actually two separate works put together so that you get more bang for your buck [yes it all fits on a single disc]. Up first are 13 new songs, punningly titled, The Tennis EP [say it fast] and the other half of the disc contains 13 b-sides spanning the bands career. The result is possibly the best thing the band has released since their debut album and shows them evolving in both songwriting and overall style.
To conquer this giant of a disc, I’ll give each half its own paragraph and call it good. The Tennis Ep, aka, the new songs, begins with, “Where Do I Go From Here,” which starts like a folk song then goes full fledged into the fast paced pop punk sound Relient K has relied on for years. It’s good, but I, having listened to the band for awhile, knew this was common ground for them so not much grabbed me until they incorporated acoustic lead in the verses, that’s a nice change. From there we have the single, “The Scene and Herd,” which pokes some fun at illegal downloading and shows Theissen claiming he doesn’t mind because he’s doing what he loves. It’s radio friendly and good to go on the charts as the lyrics and music are great. The gem on this half of the disc comes with, “At Least We Made it This Far,” which is a more country influenced love song [mainly acoustic] which details the e struggles of being in a relationship on the road. though we’re not all on the road in a band, we can al relate to missing someone and thinking a phone is not a decent replacement for their warmth at your side. This song is so good, dar I say, it’s worth buying the album just for this track alone. As a result, “The Last, The Lost, The Least,” doesn’t really meet the new bar set and fades by as a rocker you may not return to and, “The Lining as Silver,” shows some good laid back ideas and eighties like guitar work that gets you back into what’s being heard. “There Was No Thief,” is a part 2 to a song from the Apathetic ep and is a gorgeous piano ballad that’s followed by a solid rock track that then takes us to the next piece of gold on the disc. This track would be, “Curl up and Die,” which is beautiful acoustic work. “You’ll always Be My Friend,” is another folky acoustic track that shows a great new side of the band. The remainder of this half contains some wonderful melody and harmony work, but didn’t hit me too well. Now, take a little break from this gem of a record to move around and then settle back in so you’re ready for the next half of the record.
The Bird and the Bee Sides really starts with an acoustic rendition of, “Up and Up,” which works wonderfully with light piano accompaniment. If you haven’t noticed, when there’s acoustic guitar associated with this band, pay attention. “Wit’s all Been Done Before,” and, “The Vinyl Countdown,” shows the tongue in cheek side of the band we’ve come to love while, “For The Band,” is just a fun rock song. There is a truly great track in, “A Penny Loafer Saved is a Penny Loafer Earned.” This is a electronic piano and guitar led song that just bops along like a pop classic. It’s probably only a b-side because it wouldn’t fit elsewhere in the band’s catalog, but that doesn’t make it a bad song in any way, shape, or form. This is followed by the simple, but fun odes to Five Iron Frenzy. These were vinyl only releases, so it’s treat to get them in a more easily found form. “Who I am Hate Who I’ve Been [acoustic],” appear on Punk Goes Acoustic 2, but is welcomed here. The reworked song sounds 3x better than it did electrically and Thiessen’s voice is full of raw power and emotion while remaining gentle and fitting for the sound. Next up, we have 3 demos that are interesting, but probably not to the pint they’ll have repeat plays for you. They don’t sound as rough as most “demo” versions you come across, but it is cool to hear the original ideas of songs that have become staples in the band’s catalog. Well, “The Stenographer” isn’t a staple, but it is a great track. Therefore, I’m sure we’ll be hearing it a lot more in the future. Finally, we reach the end of our journey with a very moody rendition of, “Hope For Every Fallen Man,” played with simple drum, acoustic, and piano tracks. Thiessen sounds more mature than ever before and the song just works wonderfully. For a stack of b-sides this set has proven better than a lot of regular albums we’ve heard as of late.
Overall, Relient K has used this collection or rarities and new material to show us they have a lot more to say and reason to still be around today. I never thought a band who use to talk about rock stars eating their girlfriends would mature to the sound they have today, but I think I now can say that they’re only getting better. Also, this disc shows they band knows ow to use and acoustic guitar and those tracks shine even brighter than the electric ones, which may be saying something, but it’s great overall regardless. The Bird and the Bee Sides is a must buy for Relient K fans, but even if the K isn’t your cup of tea, I say buy this regardless because their new sound is unlike almost anything put out there today.
*Written By: James Shotwell*