Relient K drove Christian rock into the fast lane with their pop-punk hooks and teasing teenage attitude. Leader Matt Theissen's songs mix youthful, stand-up-and-be-counted defiance, with a knowing, lyrical maturity that puts the accent on faith. Smart-guy vocals snarl over a surge of guitar power, propelled by a rhythm section that knows when to hit the gas, and when to coast with the melody. Hot-wired to the heart and soul, Relient K is a free-spirited foursome of true believers.
The String Quartet Tribute to Relient K turns rousing teenage confession into energetic chamber punk. Inspired by Relient's buoyant pop hooks and rockin' spiritual vibe, violin and viola let loose on the school's out exuberance of "Sadie Hawkins Dance", while soulful cello brings it down to the emotional basics on "Getting In to You". Relient K set to strings - theme songs that celebrate the power of faith... and the freedom of rock.
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After the release of mmhmm in 2004, Relient K got major mainstream attention; MTV, The Tonight Show, and other venues now featured the band for the first time. The band also captured the attention of one Todd Mark Rubenstein, one of the leaders of "The String Quartet Tribute," a group that puts the classical spin on everyone from "The Beatles" to "U2," "Good Charlotte" to "American Idol," over 200 albums in all, with Rubenstein doing over 40 of those himself. That's right; your favorite Relient K songs have been turned into classical music.
Now, before you click away, at least find a sample of album first. If you don't like what you hear, or if you're not a fan of classical music in general, you'll most likely not like this project. This review, however, is for the rest of us.
The way that the group works is they go note for note on the songs, replacing the band's instruments with violins, cellos, and the occasional drum. But, the obvious first question is, does it work? Well, one advantage is that it puts more emphasis on the emotions of the music itself, with songs like "Getting into You" and "Jefferson, Aero Plane," this works well. However, there is an exception with "Let It All Out," which was primariy vocally and lyrically driven, not quite as musically reliant. The quartet's version, being all music, doesn't work as well.
Surprisingly, taking on guitar driven songs such as "Softer to Me," "Failure to Excommunicate," and "Pressing On" gives new angles to the songs, and more of an appreciation for the melodies that Matt Thiessen is able to craft with each one. And although not a string instrument, the drum plays an important role on the album as well, especially with "Be My Escape." The drum's presence gives the song more depth, and more bang for the buck, but it only comes out when needed. The string treatment also does fan-favorites justice. "Mood Rings," "Sadie Hawkins Dance," and "In Love with the 80's" still remain as fun as ever, even without the lyrics that made the songs.
I recommend that you listen to Relient K's versions of the songs, then the string versions; so you can gain a greater appreciation for the album and the songs. Otherwise, if you don't know the songs, it's just a nice album for background music, and a nice modern alternative to the legends that composed symphonies with just a piano, and their mind.
Overall, if you're not a fan of classical music, then you'll probably pass this one up. However, if you're willing to give it a try, then I highly recommend it. With most cases in the album, the string tribute does each song justice, and adds new depth to them. A worthy tribute of a band that will go down as legends in CCM history, all I can hope for is The String Quartet Tribute to Relient K Pt. 2.