This is not a timely review, but I definitely found worthwhile to comment on and share it.
Following three previous albums, Quiet Company released their fourth one ‘We Are All Where We Belong’ in October 2011, becoming the first band to promote its album via Grooveshark under a special ‘New Artist Development Program’. Six songs are available for download on Grooveshark, while the full album is audible on the site.
My initial impression not the same as the last one…At first, some of their songs left the impression of what you might call ‘teenage music’ in a perfect teen movie soundtrack. The best ones reminded me of a mix of Death Cab for Cutie and Travis, but that would be the easiest and most superficial thing to say about them.
Later on, I continued to listen and found some really descent combination of both food for soul and food for thought for my taste.
Rich instrumental and lyrical content -most of which is originating from the front man Taylor Muse- really stands out in providing a full journey from the first to the last song.
As you might guess I was not where I started, once I finished my first in-depth listening.
If you like holistic albums with a particular topic…Content is fairly loaded, but concerning a particular question. Many references to god, afterlife, Jesus – and in general how these notions kind of distract you from what you might call ‘today’.
There is some kind of a general confusion to be felt throughout the album (which sounds so honest and familiar), coming from Taylor Muse’s or the group’s general experiences: having already suffered from keeping a full faith in all the divinity, yet needing a good explanation to provide your children with (in this case, Taylor Muse’s).
What would you tell to (your) children about God? I found this to be a very relevant question. They don’t have to be necessarily your own children. We have them all around. I have my seven-year old niece, and I wonder what the best way would be to talk about these concepts if one day she comes and asks me…
The songs, one by one, and in an order elaborate on this question and the related questions. The whole album gave me the impression that the group shares its own private views about life, death, afterlife, God, prophets, etc…It’s like sitting and having these long conversations about these concepts with them, where they share their thoughts as if you were part of their friend circle.
Make up your own mind girl…As he mentions in ‘Set Your Monster Free (MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION IS TO COPE WITH MY MORALITY)’, he basically wants her daughter to grasp the possibilities within reach on her own, although he cannot help but converse with her within songs.
so daughter, just be strong enough to make up your own mind, because you don’t have to waste your time, holding on to beautiful lies’.
Throughout the album, he goes in and out belief. For instance, the sixth song, Fear & Fallacy Sitting in a Tree (you were doing well until everyone died) maybe also quite humbly indicates that the need to believe in ‘god’ rises once you are closer to death.
Would there be angels singing, harps ringing in heaven? I found ‘Everything Louder than Everything Else’ as the most powerful song in the album, one of those songs that can surprise you. It is flowing like all instrumental and building up gradually, with the vocal starting just at 2:30 of the 7:28 minutes-long song. Yet, the constant strengthening of the song continues, and you are surprised to find that the piece after 4:02 minute actually climbs up towards a totally different chorus than you thought. As many of the songs in the album, the second half of the song is nowhere near a mirror image of the first half.
The content is again floating through a fear of death, unfulfilling divine promises regarding the after world, maybe leading to a denial in itself. The song overall feels really complete, making its way into my typically one song-on type of addictions. It offers a full journey in itself, well-suiting to the mood swings between believing and not believing, quite rigid at some points and soft at others.
I guess this also is the song that made me continue listening to the album another round and wondering about what it had to say. http://grooveshark.com/s/Everything+Louder+Than+Everything+Else/4cOWt0?src=5
Some excerpts from the lyrics: ‘But all those prophets promised me, that if I could just believe, eternal life and peace would be waiting for me. But when I go, there will probably be no angels singing, no harps ringing, no pearly gates, nor devil’s flames, just nothing nothing nothing nothing. Wouldn’t it be grand to take some comfort in those same holy texts that pacify my friends? Well, it wouldn’t change the fact that all we know is we come and we go. So it goes, so it goes, so it goes.’
Everybody makes their own destiny?!? The Black Sheep & The Shepherd (Look, I’m just an instrument, okay?) is on a similar stream, my second favourite on the album. Simpler to guess where the melody might go from the start compared with the ‘Everything louder than everything else’. It ironically starts like a church prayer, yet turns into a totally insubordinate level with the lyrics…
The song brings almost a peaceful embrace to all this feelings of faith and lack of faith that you feel that the singer goes through, flowing in between unrest and peace of mind along with church horns. http://grooveshark.com/s/The+Black+Sheep+and+The+Shepherd/4cOXZ5?src=5
Some excerpts from the lyrics: …I’ve never heard Jesus speak to me (not in any way that I’d consider speaking) but I bowed my head just the same…
…Hey god! Now I’ve got a baby girl. What am I supposed to tell her about you? Because her life shouldn’t have to be like mine. She shouldn’t have to waste her time on waiting on you, because you never do come through.
But luckily I held out long enough to see that everybody really makes their own destiny. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s just you and me, exactly where we belong, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with us.
In the end, what would Taylor say to God? The Easy Confidence (What I would say to you now): This is the song that takes the original rebellious sound of the band to the peak, showing what Taylor can do with its vocal, surprising in a way compared with most of the smooth choruses in the album (similar to their band name, quiet company). Once you reached this song, the ninth one almost close to the end, you in a way get the privilege to be surprised, prepared to hear what Taylor can turn his voice into. The song after 2.20 minute takes you totally somewhere else, sarcasm turns into almost real anger, yet goes back and forth between calm choruses and Taylor’s screams, keeping on surprising you.
Talking to God, ‘I want something better. I want something real. And this is the part where my exit starts, because I caught a glimpse of the father’s heart. Do we want something we can’t have? So come on, friends, count up your sins: one for being human, two for being born like this. This isn’t love. We’re not in love. If you wanted love, you just should’ve spoken up.’
So it seems like Taylor would have wanted God to be more accessible, in a way open to discussion or at least self-expression.
What would God tell to him/us, if he spoke? After building up a theme that mostly defies the existence of God, or at least the impact of its notion on our everyday life, the final song surprisingly lets God speak in the most modest way possible in At Last! The Celestial Being Speaks (the utterly indifferent).
I really admired Taylor’s logic in presenting such an imaginary, yet proper closure to the album…Reflecting what Taylor imagines the celestial being would express in regard to all this confusion…That possibly God also never really wanted to be so abstract! And that maybe he remained utterly and totally indifferent about all our confusion.
Lyrics: God was hanging out where ever god does his hanging out, when he looked down at us through the clouds and said “What have I done?! I didn’t mean to be so abstract, so elusive, you see. But I don’t see why you should believe that you needed me, because you allbelong to the earth that I placed you on. So lift up your heads, don’t worry about death, you’re all gonna be just fine.”
Halelujah! We all belong to the earth that we sprang up from. So lift up your heads, don’t worry about death, we’re all gonna be just fine.
Perspective…The last piece of the album, totally dedicated to Taylor’s daughter…a perfect ‘quiet’ ending to the whole record, in my view a lullaby…that says ‘I’ll hang the moon for you, and you will see how perfect life can be..I’ll give my heart to you, that’s all I wanna do.’
A well-presented journey from belief to disbelief or vice versa…As also covered by Le Cafe Witteveen, Quiet Company’s front man/singer songwriter Taylor Muse described the album as, “[A] concept record about the journey from belief to disbelief, or a break up record, if you will.” (http://cafewitteveen.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/album-review-quiet-company-we-are-where-we-belong/).
I admit I haven’t finished listening to all of their past records, but their last album gave me enough excitement and curiosity to go on discovering their earlier albums. I continue to take great pleasure from listening to ’we are all where we belong’.
Below is the link to the album in Grooveshark: http://grooveshark.com/playlist/Quiet+Company+We+Are+All+Where+We+Belong/75116123