I don’t know if I can overstate the importance of this record not only for me but for the band as well. In late 2008 lead singer Matt Thiessen and his fiancé called their engagement off. He then spent the earlier part of 2009 in isolation, writing the music that would eventually become this album. The result? It’s by far their most mature record to date. As much as we love Relient K’s humor, Thiessen cuts the tongue-in-check puns and gets to the core of who he is. It’s an album about trying to make sense of your shattered life while recognizing how loss can remind us of what’s most important.
But even musically, I feel like they cut the fluff. Five Score and Seven Years Ago was musically ambitious. Loaded with fast-paced songs with chunky riffs and not to mention an 11-minute closer that brought the whole project together, it was dramatic if not almost over the top. But Forget and Not Slow Down is almost the complete opposite. While it’s still musically impressive (after all there’s the chunkiness of “Sahara”), it feels much more stripped away while remaining cohesive. Production-wise it sounds different. Once again it becomes about the meaning of the songs themselves.
But while Relient K is one of those Christian bands that doesn’t explicitly say “God” it doesn’t mean their songs aren’t about or to Him. Christian themes are all in this record; and it’s that element, plus its soul-searching posture, that challenges me to go back to the drawing board and dig deep for my next project whatever that may be.