You’ll be singing along for hours on end with Relient K’s latest album, Collapsible Lung (2013). It’s brimming with exuberant hooks, fun lyrics and catchy tunes. Bordering more on the pop side of rock, this album feels like a Bruno Mars-meets-Jonas Brothers’ jamboree. Don’t misunderstand me; this is one of Relient K’s most enjoyable albums to date; I had the ‘repeat’ button wedged down for days on end. But for those loyal, long-time Relient K fans, a warning not to expect more of what came before.
Devastation and Reform
For many years Relient K has been the backbone of my music arsenal. HHMMHH was the first of their albums I listened to. I was immediately captivated by the lyrics which address the oftentimes disrupting uncertainties of life, caught in liminal spaces, whilst simultaneously interwoven with the joy, perseverance and truth that comes with knowing God. Five Score and Seven Years Ago and The Bird and the Bee Sides followed this trend, particularly the former of the two. I hadn’t followed Relient K for some time when I absent-mindedly Googled them and found that they had released this album mid-2013. Although the album is already almost two years old, I felt that I simply couldn’t resist sharing this experience.
This is the seventh studio album for these prolific songwriters. In some ways Collapsible Lung is reminiscent of their previous album, Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right … But Three Do, which also features lyrics that are fun and happy-go-lucky, but sometimes lacking in the thought-provoking nature that initially drew me to their music. As a result the album received mixed reviews. Some felt that what they gained in contemporary feel, they lost in spiritual depth. Most of the songs centre on fleeting but absorbing love, similar in trend to ‘Faking My Own Suicide,’ ‘The Best Thing,’ and ‘My Girl’s Ex-Boyfriend’. And, while they provide the listener with less to hang on to than the timeless, existential questions raised in, say, ‘Deathbed,’ ‘Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been’ and ‘Devastation and Reform’ there are a few references made to Christianity for the discerning listener.
For example the last song, the album’s namesake “Collapsible Lung,” lyrics go: ‘And I’m feelin’ backwards when I’m trying the most/And I hope haven’t heard the last words from the holy ghost/Cause I think that I’m supposed to be well on my way by now.’
‘Pop’ Goes the Lung?
What is perhaps most unusual about Collapsible Lung is that it’s firmly situated within the pop genre. For those who enjoyed the punk/rock style of most of their previous albums, you are likely to feel sorely neglected in this album. But try not to let that put you off. The album is a mere 36 minutes long, come and gone like summer rain. As a long-time supporter of Relient K, I am more than happy to vouch for the joyful jingles, tantalising tinkles, and lively lyrics you’re likely to become well acquainted with on this excellent album.
Relient K – Collapsible Lung (Mono Vs Stereo, 2013)