Artist: Relient K
Title: Collapsible Lung
Label: Mono Vs. Stereo
Release Date: 7/2/13
Reviewer: Ian Zandi
- Don’t Blink
- Lost Boy
- If I Could Take You Home
- Can’t Complain
- When You Were My Baby
- Collapsible Lung
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”- Ferris Bueller
It has been almost 4 years since we last heard any original content from the Canton, Ohio boys. It has been a long and dreary wait for us fans because almost no one can compare to the lyrical genius that is of Relient K. Or so I thought.
A few months back, it was announced that band member Ethan Luck would be leaving Relient K in favor of other projects. Immediately following the announcement, the remaining members of the band put out a lyric video for the first song on their new record Collapsible Lung. This song, coincidentally sharing its name with a Dr. Who phrase, is “Don’t Blink.” Though it was noticeably different from the bands past material, there was nothing to complain about. Influences of Jimmy Eat World and Third Eye Blind were apparent. The lyrics sent a message to not take life for granted because you could simply “blink and it’s gone”. Though the trade-off was bittersweet, fans wanted to material now that “Don’t Blink” started their appetite. What came next almost ruined my appetite instead.
After all of these years, a straight-up pop record by the name of Collapsible Lung is what Relient K had produced. The second track, “Boomerang” is indeed a pop song laced with quick cheesy verses that have been deemed in some circles as lead singer Matt Thiessen’s “rapping”. Along with the whistling “Lost Boy”, the Owl City-inspired “If I Could Take You Home” and the chaotic “Gloria”, these are catchy songs that involve Thiessen’s pursuit of learning how to love. On “Gloria”, he amusingly summarizes “I guess it’s love when I’m running fingers through your hair/ I guess it’s love when you tell me what to wear/I guess it’s love when you’re going through my phone/ I guess it’s love when I can’t go out alone”
Stuck in the middle of the record, “Can’t Complain” is ukulele-based song that is reminiscent of the ska music that Ethan Luck used to play in the O.C. Supertones. The song also reminds me of the 3 ukulele-based interludes that Paramore placed on their self-titled release earlier this Summer.
“PTL” is an acronym that many associate for being “Praise the Lord!” I can assure you, that is not the case here. There are not many (if any) spiritual lyrics are bluntly mentioned on Collapsible Lung. The heavenly ballads of adoration similar to “For the Moments I Feel Faint” on The Anatomy of Tongue and Cheek are sorely missed. Instead, “PTL” stands for “Part Time Lover”. Unfortunately, this is the one song on the album that probably has the best chance of getting radio airplay due to its Maroon 5-ish vibe.
“Disaster” is a decent Relient K song about averting trouble with a good musical backbone of blaring trumpets. That is, until Thiessen hits the lyric “Baby…you look so sexy.” I don’t know if it is the infliction that is used or the fact that it feels out of place for Relient K but the song becomes laughable. Literally. I audibly chuckled. Same thing goes for the next song, “When You Were My Baby”. I found myself wondering if this was another Justin Bieber song from Relient K’s 2012 covers album. Sadly, it isn’t. Either the influx of co-songwriters is damaging the music (about 8 of the 11 songs have mainstream co-writers) or if Matthew Thiessen has just lost his creative bone.
“Sweeter” is the most mellow track of them all. It is really just a song about how there was a girl who was “sweeter than sugar till the sun goes down”. Like most of the cliche lyrics on this release, they are pretty low for Relient K, yet, still quality music that is much better than other Top 40 acts.
Fortunately for my strong love for the band, the album ends on a better note with the title track “Collapsible Lung”. In fact, track would mesh right in with their previous release Forget and Not Slow Down. The final song ends with the chorus “Between the miles of open road/I lost sight of might matter the most/I stumbled into the great unknown and found/ that time won’t slow down.”
Overall: Collapsible Lung is begins and ends with the same message; slow down while you can and don’t take time for granted. You could look at it this way; Relient k took some ingredients and slowly put them together and cooked it for the course of 4 years. In the end, they made a grilled cheese sandwich. Both ends of the bread are good and crisp but the middle of the sandwich is full of cheese. This is wonderful if you love cheese but horrible news if you are lactose intolerant. As for me, I think I can acquire the taste after I give it more time to swallow.
RIYL: Third Eye Blind, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Cheese, Matt Thiessen’s falsetto