Relient K – Forget And Not Slow Down

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Relient K

Forget And Not Slow Down - Mono vs Stereo

Relient K and I have a very touchy relationship.  Many long years ago (when I was in high school), I fell in love with what I consider their breakout hit, Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…but Three Do.  The band did what many attempt and few succeed at, capturing the moment – a snapshot if you will – of the awkward experience that is the adolescent journey.  Expressing it with such precision and shared truth, it borderlined becoming a generational statement remembered fondly by twenty-somethings like myself (oh nostalgia).

But then Relient K grew up.

Despite remaining atop of the charts, their output steadily declined from great, to good, to mediocre.  Mmhhmm signaled the descent, and by Five Score And Seven Years Ago they flat lined (I can’t even remember listening to that disc in full – and let’s just pretend that the Christmas album didn’t happen).  So when I was given the opportunity to listen to their sixth studio album, my stomach knotted at the thought of seeing just how much further they could slide.

But as it turns out, I was wrong!  Forget And Not Slow Down is the album Relient K has been trying to write since 2003, and the spiritual follow-up to Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…but Three Do.  Many of my woes were rooted in the band’s apparent obsession with becoming “mature.”  It’s something you just can’t fake with a somber tone, but that the best bands earn through the passage of time.  Relient K has finally come of age, and once again they’re in tune with life, love, and relationships in the most real and well rounded of ways.

Forget And Not Slow Down is a deeply personal journey, but never alienates listeners with fixed details.  Relient K achieves real, relatable emotion without going over the top or feeling forced.  The album’s message is one of gaining perspective – contextualizing and prioritizing life’s unraveling situations.  “I’d rather forget and not slow down, than gather regret for the things I can’t change now,” sings Matt Thiessen on the title track in a passage that anyone who has ever used work to busy the mind as a distraction from lingering ghosts can relate to.  As quick as he is to dwell on personal issues, he admits the pettiness of it all a track later on “I Don’t Need A Soul.”  Against a soothing alternative backdrop he sings “I listen to the sirens as they sing me back to sleep, I pray that no one is seriously hurt,” in his late night realization that “things could still be worse.”  Embracing that some things just aren’t meant to be, Thiessen contextualizes failed relationships and the hurt that follows in their wake.  A while later he revisits the sentiment in “Part Of It,” with the reminder that “perspective is a lovely hand to hold.”  In “Over It” he lightens the mood and confesses that he’s over drama and willing to work towards adult relationships.  It’s a far cry from the topics of past as per “Chap Stick, Chapped lips, and things like Chemistry,” but so very close in sincerity and truths; appreciating that the past shapes the present might sound cliché, but few can speak so empathetic and emotively in tune.

Instrumentally the band stays on the lighter side of the spectrum (think the laid back smoothness of label mates Dias Vail, or the ease of listening characteristic of the Drive-Thru Records days).  But that isn’t to say they’re one-dimensional.  In fact, the group distorts their guitars and gets outright revved up and angry on the poetically unfolding “Sahara.”  In a smart play on words, Thiessen composes an image of betrayal and greed from the African wilderness.  “A lion on his side, was it the lying or his pride” Thiessen warns – an aged wisdom stressing that the blinder one’s arrogance, the harder one’s fall.

Forget And Not Slow Down is just one of those albums where you find yourself catching something new with every listen.  Relient K is back, again melding music and message in the most genuine expression.  Even if you’ve been holding off since Two Lefts, or have taken a break with the aging pop-punkers,Forget And Not Slow Down is reason enough to get reacquainted.  Easily my new favourite in Relient K’s catalogue.