Collapsible Lung – Relient K
Producer: Mono Vs. Stereo (2013)
Reviewed by: Douglas Smith
Relient K’s new album, Collapsible Lung, has received mixed reactions from fans, who for the most part are unhappy with the uncharacteristic, generic-pop sound that has come from the band’s seventh album.
As a lifelong fan of Relient K, I must admit that I was surprised by what I heard the first time that I listened to the new album. Along with millions of Relient K fans, over the years I have become accustomed to their singer-song-writer Matt Thiessen’s innocent, yet intelligent lyrics. Sadly Collapsible Lung falls short of the high standard of his previous work.
Most of the songs are shallow and, as put by Randall Colburn of Consequence of Sound, the album is “weighted down by a parade of faceless women, many of whom are reduced to mere sexual objects”.
There is even a song about a one-night stand – “If I could take you home” – something that is not expected of a band that has had such a positive impact on the Christian-rock scene.
That’s the other thing – Collapsible Lung is certainly not a rock album. Relient K’s sound has changed from album to album, as is the case with many bands, but the leap to synth-based pop is drastic.
The band brought on eight different co-writers and two new producers to help create the album. The outside influence can be heard in songs like “Can’t Complain” which has a Bruno Mars, “Lazy Day” feel about it, and “PTL” and “Lost Boy” which sound like they were written for Maroon 5.
The album lacks continuity and it seems as though the tracks have been done individually, without focus on the album as a whole. Most of the songs are pleasant, but forgettable. However, there are some remnants of the good old Relient K hidden among the synth.
“Sweeter” is one of the few songs on the album which has been slowed down and has a country feel about it. It captures the old style Relient K in terms of quality, but the message behind the lyrics is again questionable – “can’t drink enough to wash her down” seems too worldly a lyric to come from them.
Their last album Forget and Not Slow Down (2009) was a powerful break-up album with thoughtful insight into maturely dealing with the downs of life. The songs in Collapsible Lung are just as honest, but describe Thiessen dealing with things in the wrong way this time after his fiancé left him. It may not be what fans want to hear, but at least it is an honest reflection of where he is at.
The title song at the very end, which is the best song on the album is vintage Relient K and serves as a reflection on the 10 songs about bad choices that come before it. Thiessen turns his eyes skyward again saying “I lost sight of what might matter the most” and seeks redemption in the lyrics “I hope I haven’t heard the last words from the Holy Ghost”.
Follow this link to a JFH interview with Relient K about their new album:
Other Recommended Reviews on Collapsible Lung:
Consequence of Sound – http://consequenceofsound.net/2013/07/album-review-relient-k-collapsible-lung/
Under The Gun Review – http://www.underthegunreview.net/2013/07/02/review-relient-k-collapsible-lung/