For members of the original hardcore generation, the concept of polite punk is oxymoronic in the extreme -- on par with family-friendly heavy metal and hip-hop done the Aaron Carter way. For listeners young enough to be free of historical hangups, however, the stuff offered by Relient K, currently touring with Mae and Sherwood, isn't contradictory in the slightest. The Canton, Ohio, quintet sprang from the late-'90s Christian-punk movement (heathens need not apply), and on Five Score and Seven Years Ago, their big-selling new disc, the players hardly renounce their origins. Amid the sweet melodies, cushiony hooks and warm harmonies of "Must Have Done Something Right" and the rest of the ditties are lines like "Thank you, God, for giving me the insight," from "Devastation and Reform" -- and even "Deathbed," a wannabe rock operetta, leaves a Jesus-y aftertaste. These elements are likely to appall listeners who like their punk with a hefty serving of nihilism, but the little church-goers understand.
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