While it only feels like a year since the last full Relient K release, thanks to what may possibly be the longest EP in rock music's history, it has in fact been TWO years since the Ohio group's last LP has been pressed. Not only that, but the Gotee Records band has shifted base to sister label Mono Vs Stereo, and indeed manage the indie record label. So with a shift to their own record label and practically complete artistic freedom to do what they like, what has changed? A fair bit, actually. You could say that The Nashville Tennis EP was a harbinger of what was to come, with the band dabbling in a bit of folk-rock, but still managing to maintain a bit of the old punk-rock mentality. The new Relient K that has emerged is part-punk, part-rock with a dash of folk, but still contains the smart and witty lyrics of frontman Matthew Thiessen (thank goodness!).
The album hits it off with the title track, a song that has already received a fair bit of airplay since being released to radio. The melody is typical Relient K: fast, catchy and filled with hooks. The song itself appears to be a ballad of lament for past love and regret at what could have been done for things to have been different (a state-of-mind many of us have visited). Following that, "I Don't Need A Soul" continues on the thematic path of relationships, except with a more hopeful view on love (in this case, possibly a loved one that has passed on), as evidenced by the chorus' repetition of "I don't need a soul, no I don't a soul to hold. Without you I'm still whole. You and life remain beautiful." Personally, this was one of my favourite songs on the album. "Candlelight" is a happy, bouncy song that focuses on a man's adoration for a woman; so much so that the singer happily claims that "She outshines anyone who might dare to bask in the same candlelight." This is followed by a leisurely outro to the same song, a new approach to songwriting from the band.
Fans of the old "punk-ier" version of the band finally get their wish on "Part Of It." This song also seems to be about relationships, but it's rather vague as to what the lyrics are trying to convey. In some places, it seems to be a breakup song, but in others it tends to contradict that idea; perhaps the listener needs to decide for themselves what it means. "Therapy" sticks to the upbeat style of preceding track "Part Of It," but takes a more melodic, sing-along approach to what ends up being a song about a man who encounters difficulties in life and turns to solitude and God as a means of remedying the pain. Some may perhaps be quite surprised that so far, "Therapy" is the only song to actually mention God. However, this is a not-unusual approach to songwriting from the band, as they tend to tie in more subtle references to God and Christianity in their songs, rather than being obvious about it.
As if to give the listener a rest stop between the more aggressive songs, "Over It" is pleasantly calm and restful, and recalls to mind some of the slower songs on last year's The Nashville Tennis EP. Now, I say "between," because following "Over It" is "Sahara," the most aggressive song on the album. However, unlike "Part Of It" or "Therapy," it's more of a power-rock than a punk-rock track; yet another example of the band's slow transition to a new genre. The next track is interesting, because not only does it have an outro, it also makes use of an intro track to slowly glide into the track. An unabashedly happy folk-rock song, "Savannah" is lyrically one of happiest songs on the record. "If You Believe Me" is another one of my personal favourites from the album, and is a semi-hybrid stylistically of the old and new Relient K. Finally, "This Is The End" is reminiscent of "Where Do I Go From Here" from last year's EP, with its calm intro suddenly giving way to pounding drums and driving electric guitar. However, it doesn't quite end there...but to say more would be to reveal too much.
Relient K have proven over the years that while they may have started off as a punk band, they are quite capable of maturing and diversifying. "Forget And Not Slow Down" is probably the best example of this. From start to finish, there are barely any flaws. However, I must say that with the intros, outros and hidden track removed, the 15-track album quickly becomes a 10-track album. Also, every single one of the songs deals with relationships in some shape or form (though mostly from the viewpoint of a guy to a girl). However, those aren't major issues, and shouldn't lessen the enjoyment of listening to what is definitely Relient K's most mature album to date.- PReview date: 9/27/09, Review date: 10/5/09, written by Adam Dawson of Jesusfreakhideout.com class="coversize" align=right> Early Thoughts...
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