Relient K - Collapsible Lung
Record Label: Mono vs. Stereo
Release Date: July 2, 2013
People are up in arms because Relient K has released an album they don't like. Are you really shocked they released an album like this, or are you more shocked because they didn't write an album like Mmhmm and Two Lefts Don't Make a Right…..But Three Do? The reality is this: Matthew Thiessen is an in-demand songwriter who has co-written with the likes of Owl City, Katy Perry, Glen Ballard and Jon Forefoman of Switchfoot, among others. To date, the band has charted on crossover charts and has never once taken their craft too seriously. Moreover, they haven't had a substantial hit on the non-Christian charts since 2005's "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been."
On the whole Collapsible Lung really isn't that awful. In fact its par for the course for many CCM mainstream outfits. Gosh, really, would you rather listen to a One Direction record? While the first half of the album (the first six) have few if any noteworthy efforts, the dizzy and caffeinated "If I Could Take You Home" is arguable the best of the first half. While it is hard to quantify, there's a charisma, urgency and enveloping quality that its three predecessors completely lacked. In all sincerity, if Relient K wants to color their songs in this synth-driven direction, well, that might be kind of nifty. On the contrary if the band wants to chase down the watered-down radio pop of "Lost Boy," the busy and clumsy Hollywood pop that is "Boomerang" and the sun-drenched though slightly shallow "Don't Blink," well then we certainly have problems. Ditto to the slightly reggae "Can't Complain," a composition that feels strangely borrowed from the Bruno Mars songbook circa Doowops and Hooligans.
Thankfully, Collapsible Lung is not an EP and the disc continues onward. While the regrettable "Gloria" is a total throwaway, the synth-driven "PTL" is vintage Relient K and has little to dislike. Frontman Matthew Thiessen is a champion for self-effacing, self-doubting and self-introspection and "PTL" is veritable proof of that. Similarly, the Beatles-esque "Disaster" is absolutely dynamic. Equal parts magnetic, radiant and shimmering it is everything that makes Relient K great. Not one to stall momentum, the band continues with the forlorn "When You Were My Baby," another dose of classic Relient K that should do plenty to keep the fanbase satiated. Arguably the best on the album is the country-tinged ballad "Sweeter," an affecting, relatable and easy-to-please paean to bitter ache that is Thiessen at his most crestfallen and tortured. When the album closes with the steady and engaging title track, the urge to go back to "PTL" and listen again is actually present.
The final takeaway of this release is two-fold. Firstly, the fact that the band can release songs like "Gloria," "Lost Boy" and "Cant Complain," at this stage in their career is an absolute shame, but plenty of bands have done far worse. The second reality is this: Anyone who discredits the album's back half is clearly jaded and disgruntled with the seriously weak aspects of the first half. While the album does veer closer towards Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars than say that of Jimmy Eat World or HelloGoodbye, Collapsible Lung is still a commendable effort from a band who seems more than content to keep churning out tunes. While it pales in comparison to both K is For Karaoke and Forget and Not Slow Down, it isn't a complete miss. In an era when bands quit long before they should (Acceptance, Copeland, The Graduate), it is refreshing to see a band keep churning out music and never losing sight of that inescapable dream.
What a persuasive review -- makes me want to re-listen to this album again (minus "Gloria"). Well done, Gregory. You put the right spin on this, dropping accurate critiques and a dose of reality for all the bitching that's been happening here in regards to this band/album. I get it -- not a huge fan of the way this album came together, but yes, I get it. Matt T. had to do this, for himself, especially after the weight that was FANSD's thematic material.
I enjoy the album, I'd rate it about the same. Although, I think it is better the K is for Karaoke. Also, I found the first half to be very good. Minus Boomerang which is alright. Gloria is pretty bad.
I like this album. I understand that it is a step away from their usual sound, but sometimes a band needs to step back and see what they've done and experiment with a new sound, instead of using the same formula over and over again.
How they could release this AFTER Forget and Not Slow Down is what everyone (including me) is disappointed about. This album is passable with no lasting value. I still can't believe we waited so long and this was the result.
Great review, nice to see something to balance the negativity out. While I can't say I didn't want to hear FANSD part 2 (or Mmhmm part 2 or Five Score part 2), RK has always written what they want and never repeated themselves.
There's definitely 5+ fantastic songs on here, and really only one or two tracks I'd throw out. I thought Don't Blink was a highlight though - and the most FANSDish track though :)
I think this is pretty fair. It's grown on me enough, and I do like several songs on it. I don't think it'll be any fan's favorite album, but it's still enjoyable once you get past the "wow this is the polar opposite of FANSD."