Relient K’s newest album, Forget and Not Slow Down, is a compilation of Matthew Thiessen’s deepest thoughts over the course of three months spent alone in Tennessee after a tragic breakup with his fiancée.
The reasons for the severed relationship have not been explained to the public because Thiessen’s song lyrics, rather than dwelling on what happened and describing the situation, are colored with hope.
“Therapy,” one of the best songs on the album, describes Thiessen’s isolated experience. The optimistic sounds of songs like “I Don’t Need a Soul” and “Part of It” are not only catchy but thought-provoking.
It’s clear that Thiessen wants the audience to hear his broken heart but be assured that he is moving on and looking up. The music is also inspiring and a comforting reminder that God is in control even in the bleakest of circumstances.
The song “Candlelight” first struck me as particularly typical for Relient K. The song incorporates a bright sound with cute lyrics about a girl. After learning about the inspiration for the album as a whole, however, the second listen gave me chills. Thiessen still believes that his ex is the most beautiful woman. The lyrics in “Candlelight” show his reverence for her but also convey his hatred for the situation through a complex metaphor.
Relient K’s music has evolved since its very first album, All Work and No Play, becoming more mature both musically and lyrically. Loyal fans remember the silly and carefree sounds of songs like “Nancy Drew” and “My Girlfriend,” both of which were released on the self-titled album Relient K. By comparison, the most recent album, Forget and Not Slow Down, is heavy but personable.
It is obvious to me that Thiessen’s innermost prayers are spilled out into his melodies—the kind of pouring out that only occurs when a person has “loved and lost,” as described in, “This Is the End.”
Some listeners have concluded that Relient K is a “sell-out.” They argue that, since the band never explicitly speaks of Jesus Christ, its music is “selfish” and no longer as meaningful.
I feel the exact opposite. I believe Thiessen, in his lyrics and in his more adult voice, has found a way to express Christ in a subtle and therefore in an even more convicting and credible manner.
After a heart-wrenching breakup, this album is as real as it gets. It’s easy for Christians to be fake and detached when it comes to sharing their personal trials but, in Forget and Not Slow Down, Thiessen dives into truth. His heart aching for improvement, he is running to God with all of his baggage and sometimes theologically-challenged emotions.