Review Summary: Relient K do the impossible. They become relevant again.
Relient K have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. I say guilty, because after their trainwreck of a cd, Five Score and Seven Years Ago, the fact that I was ever their fan honestly mortified me. The overly cliche lyrics, the completely forced happiness of the cd, and the drastic change in sound all blended together into an album I simply could not digest. They quickly went from one of my favorite bands to a band that was only good for nostalgia.
Needless to say, when I heard that Relient K was writing a new album, I was overcome with much more dread than I was hope. I couldn't picture the same band that wrote such lyrics as "This is the best thing,
the best thing that could be happening, and I think you would agree the best thing is that it's happening to you and me," ever creating a song worth listening to again.
I was wrong.
You see, Relient K have made their definitive album. The magnum opus of their career. From the soaring vocals in 'I Don't Need a Soul', to the guitar riffery strewn throughout 'Sahara', and the regret filled lines of 'Over It', Relient K have produced something truly special.
While the entire band is at the top of their game, there are a few star players here who I would like to focus on. The first is Ethan Luck. When I heard that Dave Douglas would be leaving Relient K, while being genuinely disappointed over his departure, I was more worried about who the new member would be. Dave's vocals and interesting drum patterns always kept previous cd's interesting for me. Without him, I was sure that Relient K would be lost. This album keeps on proving how wrong I can be. Ethan, while stylistically different than Dave, filled his shoes in ways nobody else could have. He shows no signs of being "the new guy", and honestly, with his playing Relient K sound like they have more chemistry than ever before.
The other member that truly stands out is their vocalist, Matthew. Surprisingly, he doesn't stand out in the way a normal singer does. He stands out by blending in. He doesn't thrive off of showing off. He has truly mastered the art of making his vocals fit with the song. And that seems to be the very idea of this cd. Cohesiveness. The last two songs, 'This Is the End' and '(If You Want It)' are the perfect examples of this. Matt quickly transitions from highly emotional soft passages to energetic moments full of angst. He has clearly come into his own as a superb singer.
Also in terms of singing, Forget and Not Slow Down features a rather large amount of guest vocalists. Tim Skipper of House of Heroes, Brian McSweeney, Aaron Gillespie of The Almost, and Matt MacDonald of The Classic Crime all make guest appearances on songs throughout. Thankfully, they do the job most guest vocalists don't do. They add interesting twists to songs without stealing the show.
Lyrically, the album is fantastic. Forget and Not Slow Down is full of the creative puns Relient K have always been masters of. With lines such as "A lion on his side was it the lying or his pride which brought him down"" and "Can’t hold a candle to her, ‘cause all the moths get in the way. And they’ll begin to chew her entire attire until it frays," Relient K have truly outdone themselves.
The best thing about this album however, is how well it flows. When I first saw the tracklist, all I could think about was the fact that it had a horribly large amount of outros. I couldn't possibly comprehend why they would be necesary. But now I understand. The cd as a whole, flows like a concept album(which I suppose, in a way, it is.) Every song flows into the next, making the entire album as a whole feel like much more than just a few songs randomly put together, but more like a piece of art.
The feeling of dread is gone. Hope has returned for Relient K. And it has come in the form of Forget and Not Slow Down.