Review Summary: What’s a partridge? And what’s a pear tree? I don't know so please don't ask me. But I can bet those are terrible gifts to get.
As the holiday season approaches, sometimes I find it really hard to get in the spirit. There is extra traffic, shopping anywhere
is a nightmare, and I have to worry about what to buy for all my relatives who I know virtually nothing about. Christmas music usually starts blasting through every radio station right around Thanksgiving, and the whole idea behind the holidays begins to feel like one contrived consumer-exploiting commercial scam. And it may be just that. But I always take solace in one thing: tradition. For instance, the place where my family picks out its Christmas tree serves free hot chocolate. Even if I couldn’t care less what the tree looks like, I tag along for the ride every year to get that silly cup of hot cocoa while I freeze my ass off standing around on a ground covered in pine needles. Pointless" Maybe…but I have found that it is the little
things that take me back to when I was seven years old, sitting at the top of the stairs in my Alf pajamas at 6 a.m. Christmas morning, and watching the multi-colored lights twinkle from the top of the stairs as I anxiously awaited the “go ahead” from mom and dad. Another tradition that I have started rather recently is Relient K’s Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer
. The album was only just released in 2007, but every year since then around late November/early December I dust off that light blue CD case and pop the cleverly titled album in. Even when I am surrounded by the annual holiday annoyances that should
compel me to say “bah humbug”, Relient K always manages to pick me up and give me a dose of holiday cheer.
Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer
is not your grandma’s Christmas album. It is fast, punchy, and loads of fun. It captures Christmas from a youthful perspective, with classic Relient K charm giving a fresh perspective on even the most ancient of carols. Take for example “Angels We Have Heard On High.” It may very well be the punk
est song in the band’s entire repertoire, and it comes on a Christmas compilation. If you think that sounds strange but oddly pleasant, then you will probably enjoy this record. The lyrics are also very entertaining, as lead vocalist Matt Thiessen ad-libs with the most awkward but comedic of timing. In the middle of “12 Days of Christmas”, he exclaims, “What’s a partridge" And what’s a pear tree" I don't know so please don't ask me. But I can bet those are terrible gifts to get.” It may seem kind of corny, but as you are bouncing your head along to these quirky, up-tempo Christmas carols, it will tickle you just right. Trust me.
Don’t fret though, because the album isn’t as obnoxiously sweet as, say, Five Score and Seven Years Ago
. Knowing Relient K’s penchant for blind optimism, one could only expect Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer
to be the worst offender in their discography. I mean, Christmas is all about being happy, right" And Relient K is happy all the time no matter what, right" Well…yes…but surprisingly, they also manage to work in quite a few serious moments here, from touching accounts of the berth of Christ (“Silent Night / Away In a Manger”) to soft crooners like “Merry Christmas, Here’s to Many More” and “I Hate Christmas Parties.” The album is mostly upbeat and driven by punk-rock influences, but it also features a careful balance so that at no point does it become either annoyingly cheery or
boring. That is a balance that Relient K often fails to observe even on their studio releases
, but here they do an absolutely masterful job.
Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer
is a very diverse record because it manages to capture all the elements of Christmas. From the contemplative moments by the fireplace to the snowball fights in the backyard, this is a soundtrack to suit them all. Its most endearing trait, however, is most likely its innovation. I’m not talking about time signature changes and the pioneering of lost genres; they just manage to experiment on the simplest but most entertaining of levels with songs that have, for the most part, remained unchanged for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. It is just different enough be an interesting, new Christmas album worth your attention. Who knows, it may even become something that you listen to on an annual basis. It’s never too late to start a tradition…and if you are looking for something to cheer up your inner grinch, Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer
is an excellent place to start.