Relient K

Forget And Not Slow Down

Written by: TL on 31/10/2009 12:08:49

If proof of God's existence is to be found anywhere, I'm starting to get the feeling that you can find it in the unwavering quality of music put out by Christian rock bands, at least if Relient K are anything to go by, because ever since their third album breakthrough with "Mmhmm", more and more pop-punk lovers have recognized that the, appropriately named, faithful five-piece can do no wrong. To this reviewer personally, Relient K are a noble beacon in the sometimes dull pop-punk landscape, proving on album after album the versatility of the genre, as well as the things that can be achieved when weighing classic song writing virtues higher than cheesy keyboards and auto-tuner.

At present moment, Relient K are some eleven years into their career, and bouncing back from two retrospective albums, 2007's "Five Score And Seven Years Ago" and 2008's "The Bird And The Bee Sides" compilation, 2009 sees them release "Forget And Not Slow Down", a record that seems to suggest that Relient K are now very much ready to look forward.

If my interpretation is right on the money, this is an album about moving on, a topic which I might add is highly relevant to both the undersigned, as well as several friends of the Rockfreaks.net staff, whose relationships have been lining up to be broken up lately. Like peeling layers off a person in such a situation, the record starts out superficially, with "Forget And Not Slow Down" and "I Don't Need A Soul To Hold" proclaiming in a rather carefree manner, that moving on is going to be no big deal for frontman Matt Thiessen. Both songs are exactly what you'd expect from Relient K, polished, confident and up-beat pop-punk, which is easily accessible without compromising integrity for a second, and both of course sport retardedly catchy choruses, with especially the opener being one that you can sing along to for weeks to come.

"I'd rather forget and not slow down/ than gather regret for the things that I can't change now/ If I become what I can't accept/ resurrect the saint from within the wretch!/ Pour over me and wash my hands of it!"

Soon however, the record makes it apparent that this business of moving on isn't as simple as the first two songs suggest. "Candlelight" certainly points out an idolization of the kind that defies any notion of of doing so, while it's outro "Flare" betray the compositional ambition Relient K have vested in this album, adding a seamless, theatrical depth to the album.

"She's like an ancient artifact/ something you're lucky to have found/ She'll pinch the nerves in all the necks/ When she turns those heads around/ Those heads around"

And suddenly, after this face-off with romance, "Part Of It" shows how Thiessen's mood is suddenly much more frantic and doubtful, his resolve clearly weakened from what it was in the beginning. His mood deteriorates over the course of "Therapy" until "Sahara", sees Relient K unleash more bitterness than you'd ever expect at the album's beginning, helped along by a fantastically sung bridge by a certain Aaron Gillespie (UnderOATH). Don't think that this means a scream session though, oh no, the fantastic thing is that the shift in style is so subtle, Relient K remaining their pop-rock selves at all times, yet the change is still as remarkable as a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transition.

"Trying to ignite some sort of passion from inside to overcome/ This feeling of desertion can't be worse than never having anyone"

I could go on describing the rest of the record, but I think you're already starting to get where I'm headed towards. "Forget And Not Slow Down" is in fact absolutely fantastic. It doesn't seem like it on the first couple of listens, because Relient K have omitted inclusion of cheap hints, such as overly radio friendly choruses. It's not that the choruses aren't good, they are, they just always operate within the stylistic boundary of each song, embedding themselves in your mind, without selling out the atmosphere of each little story told. Each little story providing another thoughtful perspective on what said business of 'moving on' actually implicates. Each making up part of an album the kind of which you only see all too seldom. The kind where each song is its own, yet contributes to the overall message. The kind where instrumentals, vocals and lyrics are all equally important and equally impressive. The one unfortunate thing is, that because things are just so damn coherent, there's a chance you might not notice how they all add up, dismissing this as just another batch of throw-away catchyness from the hand of another pop-punk band, and the more I listen to this record, the more of a crime I think it is to do so. So I urge you: Get your hands on "Forget And Not Slow Down", and pay it the attention an eleven year old band should deserve, because the reward is a love for a record of such rare clarity and completeness, that I personally cannot remember when I've last heard potential so fully realized.

9

Download: Forget And Not Slow Down, Sahara, This Is The End, Part Of It
For The Fans Of: Mae, Something Corporate, Say Anything, Death Cab For Cutie
Listen: myspace.com/relientk

Release Date 06.10.2009
Mono Vs Stereo / Jive

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