Still Relient After All These Years?
By Kyle Robinson
Ever since their album debut back in 2000, Relient K’s music has made the band a popular crossover between mainstream pop punk and the contemporary Christian rock scenes. During that 14-year journey, Relient K has woven a rich musical tapestry, balancing songs that pull from Christian themes with those that cater to a commercial, mainstream audience.
Interestingly, their latest album, Collapsible Lung, left fans on both sides disappointed. Yes, there were only a few Christian references and some songs celebrate sinful acts with pride. But mainly, fans were unhappy because Relient K didn’t sound like Relient K at all in their newest release.
The short answer is that Relient K traveled a very different path with Collapsible Lung. For one thing, the band hired many songwriters to collaborate, co-edit and write songs on the album. And despite the big names that made their way onto the credits, including Bruno Mars producer Ari Levine and Sugarcult’s Tim Pagnotta, the resulting lyrics sound uninspired and trite.
But the lyrics are just one dimension; Collapsible Lung actually differs more dramatically in musical quality and production. Though Relient K is typically known for acoustic piano tracks and headbanging punk songs, the new release features a much more synthesized and poppier sound than their previous releases. Even the drums are largely fake, a rarity for the Christian rockers.
If you thought the album sounded experimental, you’re right. Lead guitarist Matt Hoopes explains that, “We really wanted to throw ourselves a curveball, push ourselves…It hasn’t been a success for a lot of our fans. But we felt like it was a record that we had to make, and I’m glad we made it.”
Whether Relient K deserves credit for being daring will depend on your outlook regarding artistic and creative liberties. Most fans aren’t happy with this release but Relient K nevertheless took a risk that could help them grow musically and artistically. A band’s journey is never linear, and Relient K’s latest album serves as a testament to this adage.