Sound — 6
American alternative rock group Relient K have been playing the music scene since the late '90s. Taking their name from the Plymouth Reliant K automobile, and intentionally misspelling the group's name to avoid copyright infringement, the band first broke into the mainstream with the release of their 2004 studio album, "Mmhmm." As compared to the band's earlier albums, this one in particular showed Relient K embracing some significant Christian rock influences; and it was this seemingly slight change in style that earned the band a worldwide following. The band themselves seemed to notice that this was the reason as well, if you pay attention to the title of their 2007 EP, "Must Have Done Something Right."
Considering such a broad change in sound brought Relient K such praising acclaim, the band is apparently trying to get the same reaction from critics and fans, this time in the pop music genre. Their new album, titled "Collapsible Lung," shows the group abandoning all of their association with alternative rock and instead embracing a musical style most similar to that of Neon Trees. Bright vocal melodies and complimentary guitar riffs coat the album's opening track, "Don't Blink." A song that will probably top the airwaves, and be set onto heavy rotation for the next six months. The musical side of this album is very simplistic sounding, and it's frankly nothing we haven't heard from other mainstream pop acts before.
It's the same direction everyone from Maroon 5 to Bon Jovi are currently taking. Shouting the choruses. One. Word. At a time. A nice intricate guitar lick thrown here, a melodic group hum of the refrain there. The band members have stated in multiple interviews that this change in style was absolutely intentional, and "needed to happen." I understand that sometimes groups need to mix things up, take on new musical horizons, but at the least you need to add some of your own personality and influence on the genre. And this is something that Relient K fail to do with their new album. While the music isn't original, in its own defense it isn't completely horrible either. Any fan of the pop music genre should be able to easily enjoy Relient K's latest outing, however I cannot say if established fans will be able to do the same.
Lyrics — 5
Relient K's lead vocalist Matt Thiessen does a noteworthy job of applying the finishing touches in the band's change in musical style. His vocal range transitions from talk-singing to a moderate high, which allows him to play a significant role in the colorful vocal melodies that are heavily showcased throughout "Collapsible Lung." But other than that, Matt doesn't do anything vocally that honestly stands out, as compared to the group's earlier albums. From a lyrical standpoint, it's exactly what you would come to expect from the pop music genre. "You're the only person who reminds me/ love is beautiful and true/ life is beautiful and new/ you're the only person who reminds me."
Overall Impression — 5
Relient K once again decide to embrace a new musical genre with their latest album, "Collapsible Lung." While they do a commendable job at switching up their style, the band fails to add any of their own personality to the music. And in the end, I feel that's what really sets this album back, against all of the others in the band's catalogue.