This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on July 13th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.
I’ve been listening to Relient K since I was going through my christian music phase in early, early high-school. It was the period of my life when I was doing the whole Young Life thing. That is all a story for another time, but, through it I did discover some music that I’ve enjoyed ever since. MxPx. Slick Shoes. Dogwood. Value Pac. These are bands I’ve been listening to for a looooong time now .. and Relient K were one of the bands that drew me in almost immediately. The pop hooks. The fun, tongue in cheek lyrics, and their ear for harmony. The band’s changed some over the years, they’ve moved more toward the secular crowd, they saw some mainstream popularity for a little while, and overall they’ve always been a band I’ve kept an eye on. I think Matt T has one of the best ears for pop music out there and is arguably one of the better songwriters in our little scene. He’s that good. I have even found a way to like some parts of Collapsable Lung a little after a few years, although, that’s easily my least favorite from the band.
The new album is Air for Free. It’ll be streaming on Pandora this Friday. It’s 16 tracks long. So, it’s a beast of an album. But my first impression is that they went for it. Matt H described it to me as: “the opposite of our attempt at radio (Collapsible Lung) and we just tried to be ourselves and have fun with it” — and I think in a lot of ways that’s a great way to describe it. It’s fun. It’s different in the right ways.
Ok, so here we go …
We spent quite a long time sequencing this album, and while I’m very happy with the digital sequence, I wanted the vinyl to be a bit of a different experience. Listening to a recording on vinyl is a special thing by its very nature, there is a certain reverence that comes with it. The songs are grouped in specific themes, so that each of the four sides can stand alone and also flow on their own. I know sometimes I forget to flip the record or don’t have time to listen to an entire album in one sitting. I wanted each side to feel like a part of the journey that is “Air For Free” but also to be an experience in an of itself. Making this album has been quite a special journey for us and we thank you for coming along.