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Musically and lyrically, Relient K's latest work is easily their best.
Posted January 04, 2011
By TissueShoe,

If you know anything at all about Relient K, you would certainly know about their witty and occasionally outlandish lyrics and punk rock-like sound. They’ve been about as innocent as can be all throughout their career, but never afraid to admit to personal faults and painful mistakes. The band’s sixth and latest album, Forget and Not Slow Down, finds Matt Thiessen and the group in a very different place than they’ve ever been before, both musically and lyrically, for a record that’s all about perspective… and making a sound as catchy as humanly possible.

I think it’s only fair to get this fact out of the way before going any further: Forget and Not Slow Down is a breakup album. Apparently, Matt Thiessen (the band’s lead singer) broke up with his fiancé sometime between when he wrote the band’s previous record and this one. Many of the songs on Forget represent what he went through, so the context is certainly helpful in interpreting his lyrics. But what makes this album unique is that it’s not about wallowing in self-pity for the pains of the breakup: it’s all about perspective, and realizing that “Without you I’m still whole, you and life remain beautiful,” and “If a nightmare ever does unfold, perspective is a lovely hand to hold.”

What’s also so fantastic about the album’s lyrics is how they can easily apply to just about any rough situation in life. There are songs about moving on despite a shameful past (“Forget and Not Slow Down”), putting difficult issues in perspective (“Part Of It”), and realizing that pride is most likely the cause the fall (“Sahara”). The clever songwriting makes all of these songs memorable and easy to relate to even if you’ve never even been in a romantic relationship, which makes this record all the more personal and brilliant.

There are lyrical highlights that must be specifically mentioned, too. The title track is pretty much the “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” of the record, as Thiessen sings “I could spend my life just trying to sift through what I could’ve done better but what good do what-ifs do?” It’s an encouraging song like no other that the band has written, because it’s a powerful reminder that despite past mistakes, you can and should seek forgiveness and reconciliation and continue moving forward in life. “Sahara” is a potent metaphor about how pride comes before a fall as depicted by a lion that has apparently lost his throne (“Was it the lying or the pride that brought him down?”). “Part Of It” puts things in perspective by remembering that we are all a part of something greater than ourselves, “Therapy” is a refreshing reminder to seek direction from God, and “If You Believe Me” seems to encourage submission to the truth, no matter how difficult it may be (“If you believe me, it means you have to disbelieve yourself.”)

Musically, Forget is quite noticeably different than other works from Relient K. The guitars sound especially organic, making each song sound wonderfully alive. A heavier emphasis is also placed on the piano, especially in the catchy “I Don’t Need a Soul” and the powerful, moving second half of the album closer “This Is The End (If You Want It).” Most of the songs are outrageously catchy in some way, whether it be the epic harmonies in the bridge on “Sahara” (featuring some phenomenal guest vocals from Matt MacDonald (The Classic Crime), Tim Skipper (House of Heroes), and Aaron Gillespie (The Almost)), the delightfully entertaining “Candlelight,” or the plentiful acoustic guitar picking of “Savannah.” And then there’s “Over It,” which may be the album’s weakest track, but successfully employs some of the types of sound that made the band’s unique Nashville Tennis EP (better known as the first half of The Bird and the Bee Sides) so successful. Musically, Forget is easily Relient K’s strongest work yet because they have found a way to be catchier than ever while also making a sound that really comes alive.

At the end of it all, Forget and Not Slow Down proves to be a simply fantastic album from a band that already has a great track record. In my opinion it’s the best work from Relient K to date for the life and catchiness of the music and personal yet relatable lyrics. It’s sad that it took such a difficult situation in Thiessen’s life to bring about this record, but I think it’s safe to say that God uses heartbreak and sorrow to give us a new perspective that comes closer to matching His perfect view, because perspective is indeed a lovely hand to hold. I’m thankful that God has gifted these musicians to write songs like these that make me consider how to seek out His direction and perspective on all of life’s trials.

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