At the end of August, I received an advanced copy of Quiet Company’s newest record titled, “We Are All Where We Belong.”
In a nutshell, the album is a powerhouse of diverse musical styles, creativity, emotion and honesty.
I wanted to review it before its release date of October 4, but I missed the mark. Partly because I finally came to the realization that I will never cover everything I want to say about this album. So here it is … my review edited and lacking so many points I want to make.
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.”
It is a breakup album. It’s scientific. It’s humanistic. It’s sympathetic. It’s about the human plight with … reality.
But it’s more than all of that. And if you don’t read any further, whether you’re a believer or not, you should buy this album. You should consider sharing it with your friends.
Because it’s good.
It’s the best album about disbelief, about becoming a non-believer that I’ve ever heard.
A little background, Taylor Muse is somewhat recently married, and he is the father to a little girl. He weaves his wife and his little girl into his lyrics, and we know he’s in love with them like nothing else. It’s as if we’re all watching Quiet Company perform, and his wife and little girl have the best seats in the house.
Enough exposition …
At times, the album sounds like a rock opera. Sometimes it’s pop and alt rock at others. It’s in your face angry one moment, and soft as a cotton swab at others. There are moments when Taylor pulls from a church choir, or a lullaby, or any number of musical influences and ideas. There are moments when he utilizes the very best entertainment tactics, and his experience as an entertainer separates him from the average musician.
You should ride along, because the album is epic. Every song is epic.
Whether it’s the lullaby beginning to “Set Your Monster Free,” in which Taylor sings this to his daughter:
Daughter, I once thought that I had angels in my room. They were sleeping on my fan while I was dreaming of you. And daughter, I once had such desire to believe that our lives had been planned out by an unseen deity, but you don’t have to waste your time holding on to beautiful lies.
There are points when we — the audience — are hovering like ghosts around Taylor who is singing a concert to his little girl, nestled in her crib. We’re catching a glimpse of what it must be like to struggle with the idea that the religion we were taught as kids isn’t what is good, right and beautiful.
Just before Taylor reaches the crescendo of another song called “Are you a mirror?” — a song spattered with the snare drum of a colonial march song — we have the benefit of hearing Taylor sing to his daughter these personal words:
And one day you will look me straight in my eyes …
and judge me for the things I’ve been in your life.
I hope you love me when you know me well,
because I look inside you and I see myself.
If you listen to the album, and your eyes are dry by the end of this, you should check your pulse. Because brother or sister, you are dead.
Or there are moments of strong-armed, raised-fisted solidarity when Taylor is belting his way through the mantra at the end of several songs including “You, Me & the Boatman”. The whole of Quiet Company seem to be singing the words over and over:
… so let’s live to love and love to live.
We are all where we belong
… live to love and love to live
… We are all where we belong
Perhaps one of my favorite moments of the album is in “The Black Sheep & Shepherd.” There’s a callback to the colonial drums of “Are you a Mirror?” Taylor is singing emotionally to us, his audience. He’s rummaging through the emotions of his breakup with god when he sings,
Because 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. Though, I did find some tears when they played that song, but for the four right chords I will play along, I have always been that way. It doesn’t matter what the lyrics say.
Into stronger arms we run, with a thorn in our side and the devil’s inside. So who are we running from? Into stranger arms we run. Such a thorn in our side, when the devil’s implied. Oh what have we done?
But then there’s the change – bum bum bahhhhhhh … the change that will send you through the roof. There’s an over-layering of guitars and a heavy slap of the snare that ricochets through the mind. Taylor pummels god with these lyrics:
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,
Then he slows the pace and whispers:
because you never do come through.
By the time we reach the end of his rant, it’s as if he catches himself and starts singing softly again. It’s as if he remembered his daughter is listening, and it’s inappropriate to shout in front of her. Suddenly — within the song — we are in a meadow, surrounded by everything that’s beautiful, flowers blooming, bee’s buzzing, snow-capped mountains in the distance. A flutist is whistling out the sweetest timbres.
This is where I have yet to hold back tears despite listening a hundred times. Taylor wanders through these thoughts in a sing-song manner:
Sometimes I can’t believe the things those preachers have the nerve to say to me, but maybe the things that I’d have to say to them are really just as bad. Because the only times I ever thought of suicide, I was waiting on the lord to direct my life, saying “give me one word and I’ll put down the knife and I’ll never pick it up again.”
This is where the violins are strategically placed.
He sings on:
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 this is where Taylor improves upon the concept of the choir or a stage piece when he orchestrates the harmony of this lyric between what sounds like a hundred people:
… and there’s nothing inherently wrong with us.
By the way, if you can fit the lyric, “There’s nothing inherently wrong with us” into a song how Taylor does it … you are so badass that the rest of us have to shield our faces when you enter the room and blind us with your majestic brilliance.
Perhaps the other character in this album is Death. I personally don’t have a problem with death as an atheist, but I’m not knowingly near my deathbed. I appreciate how Taylor approaches the death character nonetheless. And if he’s inviting him to the party, we should all go do a shot with him just before sucker punching him in the jaw.
And if I had the choice of a song I would direct for a music video, it would be “The Easy Confidence.” Probably because it’s the most non-traditional song on the album. It’s the song that speaks to me, because it’s a melange of music styles. It’s reaching out to the world whilst beating your chest and wishing for all that’s good. The kick-assery, the eeriness and the emotion work … straight into the change … in which all of us atheists echo the sentiment that we feel the most exuberant in our current status.
We may be pissed off at times, but we’re also the happiest we’ve ever been.
As atheists, we feel the best about our current life trajectory. Because that’s where we feel the least amount of confusion. And when Taylor screams, we understand his frustration, sympathize with his plight and applaud him for getting … the fuck through the agony of … the ultimate breakup.
“We Are All Where We Belong” is riding along with Taylor through a nasty breakup with the most one-sided, abusive, beguiling and dumb relationship any of us ever gone through. The same relationship we know our believing friends are still in and we want to show them how to get out … but we aren’t always able to.
We atheists needed this album, and we have Taylor Muse and Quiet Company to thank for it. Go thank him here. Buy the album here or check it out on Grooveshark here. Don’t forget I posted a music video from the album here.
It’s available now. Shame on me for not writing this review earlier.
Better late than never.