Relient K -Collapsible Lung
Record Label: Mono vs Stereo/ Jive
Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
A downside to setting the bar so high with an album is that when it comes time to write the next, it will always be compared using the measuring rod of that high mark. It's certainly the best kind of problem a band can have, but it also runs the risk of fans dismissing it undeservedly. Without a doubt, many fans may feel this way about Relient K's latest album, Collapsible Lung, but don't be deceived; it is an excellent album in its own right, and finds itself right at home in Relient K's formidable discography.
In a way, Collapsible Lung is a conglomeration of all of Relient K's different iterations. The subject matter is noticeably personal and reflective of every day problems and events, not unlike previous album Forget and Not Slow Down. However, despite this connection, it is obvious that frontman and writer Matt Thiessen's intention is not to pull heartstrings in the same way Forget masterfully did... or at least, not to the same degree. In the void left by that element, Thiessen has filled the music with a high dose of the lighter fun that Relient K's early albums built themselves on, pre-Five Score and Seven Years Ago, albiet without the sugar-induced hyperactivity of those albums. Noticeably absent, save for the track "Sweeter" and other isolated examples scattered throughout, is much of Thiessen's insanely clever puns and wordplay, making Collapsible Lung a much more direct album than its predecessors from a lyrical standpoint. This isn't to say it is over-simplified, or that the album is badly written--quite the contrary, in fact--but it is a noticable absence.
Opening strong with "Don't Blink," the pace of the album is set immediately. Collapsible Lung is a snappy, poppy and concise album that gets its point across and moves forward at a brisk pace, making it feel shorter than it actually is. Re-introducing synths to its songs, the tone of the tracks is much lighter than that of Forget and Not Slow Down, even though songs like "Boomerang" and "Lost Boy" are in actuality still very somber in subject matter.
A snap judgement of Collapsable Lung may leave listeners feeling a little underwhelmed coming off of Forget and Not Slow Down, but viewing it from a thematic sense, the album feels just like it should. Forget was written by Thiessen coming off of the painful breaking off of his engagement, and the raw emotional writing was apparent in each track. If Forget was the phase of regret in that life event, Collapsible Lung feels like the acceptance phase. It is the natural progression of Relient K, and again keeps Relient K's excellent ability to re-invent themselves with each album alive; the true mark of a mature band who has mastered their craft. It may not top many "favorite Relient K albums" lists, and emotional gut-busters like "Deathbed" and "This Is The End"/"(If You Want It)" are sorely missed, but Collapsible Lung is the necessary swinging of the pendulum from side to the another, keeping Relient K's expert balance intact. It should not be missed by any RK fan.
Couldn't agree more. There are some really good tracks on this record that should not be scoffed at simply because of the band's pedigree of making other really good albums. Relient K have a knack for writing songs that don't always sound like them, but that doesn't mean they are bad. Everyone likes "Dont Blink" (track1) because is sounds like like classic Relient K. But track 2 is a really good 3OH3! type song, track 3 is a really good Foster The People song, track 4 is a good Lady Gaga song, Track 5 is great Jason Miraz song, track 6 sounds like the Bravery, and track 6 is a Maroon 5 song that sounds better than Maroon 5. Cant we appreciate this band for mastering so many sounds on one record? So much backlash for this album is from people who wanted another "Forget and Not Slow Down", but that has been done! And I think it is a little unfair to pigeonhole a band as diverse as RK to rehash the same record over and over. Although the content of these songs do fair more on the side of "Sadie Hawkins Dance" and less "Death Bead", I think it would behoove the listener to understand how truly difficult it is to write the kinds of songs that are on this record. Good job guys!