The Record Lounge: Quiet Company – We Are All Where We Belong

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When I was younger, back in the 80’s while the debate of secular vs Christian music was being waged in my youth group, I firmly knew which side of the fence I stood. Christian music at the time was very bad. I mean almost unlistenable. I was not shy about my musical opinions, and I can clearly remember people giving me a hard time for what I listened to, commenting on everything from the content to their hair, because obviously hair is the distinction of evil. Of all alternatives I was given, Petra was the least terrible of these acts, in a list of things like Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart to DeGarmo and Key to Margaret Becker, there weren’t any substitutes for The Cure or Depeche Mode or Metallica. So I went about searching for “positive pop”, gravitating to anything Christian based that was possibly secular, U2, The Alarm, and The Call (pre-Last Temptation of Christ) were all considered okay, and were even played at times on Christian radio stations or specialty shows. This was a saving grace.

To this day I still subconsciously look for Christian themed music, always hoping there’s some hidden positive meaning within songs, but it’s very few and far between. Not being a lyrics person, most of the time I don’t care what you have to say, as long as the notes and phrasing sounds good. We all listen to music differently and get different things from it; this is just how I came to be a music listener.

So as I was passively listening to my review copy of Quiet Company’s We Are All Where We Belong on my way home from Dia de los Toadies, I was noticing several references to God and Jesus scattered throughout the record. On subsequent listening’s I paid closer attention on the next listen believing this was possibly a Christian based theme and to be pleasantly surprised by one of my favorite Austin bands.

I was extremely incorrect.

Much to my almost shock, what I had been ingesting was the chronicling of a man’s journey into disbelief, shunning his prior belief system altogether. As the words unfolded, it painted a picture of doubt and anger at God and Jesus. I hold the fairly unpopular stance as a Christian within my circles of friends. I would be a fairly liberal Christian by standards, but a believer nonetheless.

It is well documented that I dig heavy metal, and in particular the band Slayer. I can handle their lyrics and content the same way I can handle a horror movie – it’s cartoon-y and at times so ridiculous and over the top that I cannot take it seriously. That’s not the case with We Are All Where We Belong. The words simply surprised and saddened me.

This will most likely be the most conflicting and personal review I have written to date – I’ve been having a difficult time wrapping my head around Quiet Company’s We Are All Where We Belong. The music fan and liberal arts supporter in me embraces We Are All Where We Belong as an incredible work of art. Musically, Quiet Company’s growth has surpassed all expectations from their previous work, presenting a depth below the surface of their usually sunny, happy delivery. Lyrically, content aside, lyricist Taylor Muse poses his ideas and revelations as straightforward and eloquently as anyone possibly could. As a Christian, though, I find this record to be a bit frightening for the latter reason this record stands out. Muse brings his argument of doubt and disbelief to light in such a way that it can change people’s minds and comfort those who have had the same thoughts. I especially found the last third of the record, as Muse is venting his anger at what he finds to be an absent God, to be a bit disturbing for me -and that takes quite a bit.

One of my oldest friends, Eric Adcock – a youth minister from the word go – and I have had many conversations dealing with music and subject matter. He would continually tell me he was more worried of people like Kurt Cobain and Nirvana than he was of Marilyn Manson and the majority of heavy metal artists for one reason: kids could relate. Whereas the personas of Manson and most metal acts are over the top and developed to be “evil”, the kids could relate to Cobain and his lyrics of alienation and depression more because he was the common man, the everyday kid they would see on the bus or in the mirror. My concern of We Are All Where We Belong is that it could be one of the more damaging recordings toward people on the fence than anything else I have ever encountered. And as a believer, I was saddened that I couldn’t answer his questions. That’s where blind faith comes into play. I know that in my life I have felt the presence of the Lord. And I guess that’s where faith comes into play. I have faith that without some sort of concrete evidence, He is there.

The bottom line is this. Quiet Company has made an incredible record. It is extraordinary in every way imaginable. I believe that it needs to be heard, regardless of personal beliefs. It may turn some, but I know for myself it reassured me, without a doubt I believe in God.

I am proud of Quiet Company for their ability to decide that no matter what, this is the record we are making, like it or not, stick with us or not. And as great as this work of art is, and I do believe it to be a work of art, I’m really ready for the next record.

And a new subject.

~ by thesynaptic on September 27, 2011.

11 Responses to “The Record Lounge: Quiet Company – We Are All Where We Belong”

  1. I really appreciated this review. I have been a QC fan for years and I too am having a hard time with this album. As much as I love the music, the lyrics have been difficult for me to swallow. I too would be considered the the lone Christian in my group of friends, and as such, was just having a conversation with a fellow QC lover about the new album. He, being a non-believer, had never considered the impact of the words and like you had been solely focused on the “work of art” that is the music on this album. Thank you for putting your perspective of this album out there.

  2. A good friend of mine sent me a link to this, and I’m so glad she did. You just articulated what I regularly struggle with. Thank you for sharing this, and being honest about both your faith, and your love of music and appreciation of talent. It is wonderful to see I am not the only one!

  3. enjoyed the review, and if you want to listen to a good song that is pretty Christian in focus look up Farther Along by Josh Garrels. I’m not a Christian music fan, but this song really caught my attention and is the most realistic Christian song I’ve heard in a long time.

  4. “It’s cartoon-y and at times so ridiculous and over the top that I cannot take it seriously.”

    That describes how I feel about religion. The only reason I do take it seriously is because of the hatred religion has bred within otherwise good people throughout the course of history, not to mention the establishment’s use of religion as an instrument of control and degradation. I mean no ill will. Just giving an honest perspective.

  5. Honest observer – sadly, you are right about religion. “Religion” as a movement has bred much hatred and division throughout history. That’s why true faith and belief in Jesus Christ is not about a religion – it’s about a personal relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, so many people get that confused – both Christians who over-emphasize religious movements and non-Christians who have heard mixed information, but that is what the Bible speaks of and what true Christians (followers of Christ) believe. It’s a personal decision each person makes to admit that a righteous God who made us has consequences for wrong-doing, but loves us enough that his own Son died to pay for what we’ve done, and we can accept his forgiveness for free. Sometimes even this message is divisive for people who do not want to hear it, but it should not be, since it is a personal decision everyone must make on his own, not something that should be forced on anyone – but it’s the most important decision anyone can ever make! I hope that is clear, and thank you, thesynaptic, for your honest review!

  6. That is one big issue for myself. The following blindly part. I’m not saying I don’t believe in God or Jesus, I’m merely stating that I don’t see evidence enough to give me hope that there is something on the other side. Everything we have was written by man, man exaggerates, man makes mistakes. All the rules of the church were set by man, the bible written by man, the parting of the red sea was even deduced to be a tsunami occurring during the time of Moses’s departure from Egypt with the people. Nothing “divine” that has occurred has ever been completely proven to support the existence of one supreme being. I also beg another question, who created God? Or more so, how did God come to be? I’m not trying to be argumentive, just asking question and giving my outright opinion on religion. I would like to be able to believe but so far, I haven’t seen a reason to personally.

    • I understand what you mean about following blindly. I believe in God and even sometimes I struggle with that. Faith is an extremely hard thing to keep. You’re right about man exaggerating and such, but ultimately it truly does come down to faith and a personal decision. I became a Christian because of a personal experience I had with God. Really, it’s about your choice. Nobody can tell you what to believe, nobody can tell you what rules to follow. It’s an interesting thing, faith that is, not religion. It comes down to something that happens in your life and whether you’re open to it or not, I guess. Maybe you won’t be open to it, but you never know until you give something a try, right?

  7. This was an amazing review, I must say. I was listening to some of the lyrics in a song by Quiet Company and I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I wasn’t sure if he was describing how other people think or how he was personally thinking. Your review helped me understand what exactly was going on in the lyrics. I also appreciate that you did not talk them down for their own opinions and, in fact, supported their musical abilities. Thank you for this article!

  8. Great review. I just listened to it for the first time while reviewing for an exam and found the lyrical content astoundingly distracting, so I felt the need to dig deeper. Like you, I wasn’t sure if what I’d just listened to was pro-religion, the rejection of religion, or just the clever use of familiar religious symbolism for something completely else. After pulling up the lyrics, I think your assessment is right that it demonstrates his loss of faith, and I totally understand your concern in its ability to turn kids on the fence away from organized religion. However, as a nonreligious non-atheist sort of fellow who sees a lot of value and detriment in religion, I take a positive message away from this album. With so much rhetoric in our society aimed at dividing people along theological lines, I think an exploration of more traditionally liberal-humanist values framed in a religious context can help to show common ground. It’s garbage that you and some of the other posters should feel ostracized by your social groups for your beliefs, just like it’s BS when those who are particularly devout automatically reject nonbelievers and their values. There’s too much talking at and talking over each other, and it stems from and begets ignorance.
    Here’s a guy who clearly feels conflicted and persecuted by his inability to connect with religion, and he’s just laying it out there: “Hey, I’m not ignorant- I tried! It just didn’t take!” But rather than the cynical or hedonistic messages that accompany a diatribe against religion, he takes a positive note… At least from my construction, ‘Midnight at the Lazarus Pit’ beautifully expresses romantic love in terms of religious devotion, and ‘At Last!’ rather cheekily expresses, “I think there’s more value in focusing on life than the afterlife.” A challenge to religion? Certainly… but 1) I think those who want to spread religion would be far better served by recognizing these are the types of questions that need to be addressed for a lot of people experiencing a crisis of faith rather than parroting the same old arguments, and 2) it expresses a popular view, and I think there’s plenty of common ground to be found between people focused on life on this planet and people focused on the afterlife that could make our world a better place.

    One last note, the song ‘Perspective’ gives me another perspective. I think he’s an atheist in love with someone that’s devout, and that’s a battle he’s unlikely to win. And losing out on love over ideological differences… that’s enough to drive a man to write an entire album picking apart the other side.

  9. I just caught Quiet Company at Live Oak last night and thought they were amazing. I wrote my own blog post which lead me to you and we’re both in the same area so i thought I would say hey. I’m following your blog now.

    • Hey Amy, thanks for stopping by! Glad you like QC, they’re a great band for sure. Although I keep missing them at Live Oak I’ve seen them several times over the years.

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