October 05, 2009 - Mono vs. Stereo
Relient K’s latest, Forget And Not Slow Down, is easily one of the prettiest break-up albums you’ll ever hear. Coming off the creative success of 2007’s Five Score And Seven Years Ago, the band once again flex their compositional muscles, showing that even heartbreak is all a matter of perspective.
Forget opens with the upbeat, classic rock-tinged title track, recalling a splash of Blackpool Lights, while “Candlelight” is a bouncy power-pop ode to a lover that uses a clever “moth to a flame” metaphor to convey frontman Matt Thiessen’s adoration for his subject. “Part Of It” and “Therapy” build appropriate tension by conveying the crumbling relationship central to the record, leading to an apex with “Sahara”--the most rocking moment on Forget and one of its best, with kinetic riffs and hoarse vocals that sound like Elva-era Unwritten Law.
After “Sahara,” Relient quickly shift gears, going into the centerpiece track “Savannah,” with its elaborate orchestral arrangements and both an intro (“Oasis”) and outro (“Baby”). Instead of using all that window dressing for ill gains, Thiessen turns the song into an exquisite daydream about happier times, punctuated by a gorgeous arrangement that moves gracefully between plucked strings and sparkling clean guitars. Sort of like on Five Score, the band close Forget in epic fashion with the somber duo of “This Is The End” and “(If You Want It)” that despite the tumultuous subject matter, wrap up with the same sense of positive resolution so central to the album’s core.
Musically, Forget keeps pace with Thiessen’s inspired words. The performances are spot-on throughout, but what really impresses is the quality of the recording--a true headphone experience, Forget sounds flawless, thanks in part to the talents of producer Mark Townsend and engineer/mix-master Andy Wallace, as well as the band’s obvious maturity as arrangers and players. The tones of the instruments, and they way they complement Thiessen’s Ben Gibbard-esque vocals, are testament to Relient’s considerable skill, six full-lengths later.
If you’re looking for an album of angry anthems to dedicate to your ex, Relient K’s latest won’t do the trick. But for those who can appreciate not looking back in anger, but rather, with nostalgia and new-found wisdom, Forget is a sentimental triumph. Even if you’re deeply in love, this product of pain tastes ever so sweet.
GO DOWNLOAD: “Savannah”