Sounds like … Jimmy Eat World, Acceptance, Something Corporate

At a glance … Pop-punk poster children relocate to rock

Over the span of a decade and eight records, the Grammy-nominated band Relient K has made some mistakes. They've encountered the dark side of life and love and, like most of us, are haunted by a handful of regrets. But rather than wallow in them, Matt Thiessen and friends moved on, and they're inviting us to Forget and Not Slow Down along with them.

Always the smart, succinct songwriter, Thiessen's in his element here. Combining unbeatable optimism with frank, cathartic relationship post-mortems and a few nods to God, he's penned 15 tracks that celebrate future possibilities. "I'd rather forget and not slow down than gather regret for the things I can't change now," he insists on catchy title track, a reminder of Paul's admonition to "forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead" (Phil. 3:13). In the same song, he asks God to "resurrect the saint from within the wretch / Pour over me and wash my hands of it."

The rocking "Sahara" could also be a desperate plea for deliverance: "Trying to ignite some sort of passion from inside / To overcome this feeling of desertion … / So I'll ask one thing / Of you / Don't ever turn me loose / Even when I turn my back." And later: "But I am not alone / I'll be alright Just take these bones and breathe them back to life."

Other songs are equal parts carefree and nostalgic, featuring overdue goodbyes and leave-it-behind mantras. "I Don't Need a Soul " is a defiant tribute to being whole even after losing love: "The sun still burns the shadows out/And there's nothing to complain about now." Standout piano number "Over It" testifies to the power of the mind to forget the past, and "This Is the End" gives the snarky boot to a dysfunctional relationship: "I met the devil and I stared her in the eyes … I took the fire escape and made it out alive." And yet it ends on a seemingly kingdom-leaning note: "I still burn from time to time but I've a healing hand against my side / Blisters on my feet I crawled back home … / Nourished back to life by life alone / With one shake of the mane regain the throne."

Sonically, the band demonstrates an eagerness to escape their pop-punk reputation and take more ownership over every aspect of their music. They forego what Thiessen calls the "easy payoff," standard percussive tricks and big guitar hits designed to get a reaction from a live audience. Instead, the band wrote Forget according to a more classic aesthetic that involved leaving synthesizers behind and playing all the instruments themselves. The result is a thoughtful, organically crafted rock sound that complements a transition from longtime label Gotee to their own Mono vs. Stereo. It's still fast-paced and fun, but fuller, darker and sweeter in its progression. Fans of 2004's mmHmm will find that less goofy, more epic feel they've been missing.

Forget and Not Slow Down
Our Rating
4½ Stars - Excellent
Average Rating
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Release Date
October 6, 2009
Sony Legacy
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