By Shane Willenborg
EP: On Corners & Shapes
Artist: Quiet Company
Release date: February 1, 2019
After a transformative year in 2016, in which the band cycled through several members, Quiet Company strayed away from its indie pop roots and toward a heavier rock sound. I’ve often hear the band described as “The only rock band in Austin”, and while the band is certainly not that, it is among the top tier.
On Corners & Shapes delivers a heavy, emotional and Idiosyncratic look into the mental state of the band’s frontman, Taylor Muse. “The theme of this EP is that I’m a deeply flawed person” said Muse on stage at the band’s EP release concert. Quiet Company’s music has become more introspective and irreverent towards the the industry that it has found success in over the years, and that seems to continue in On Corners & Shapes.
The first thing I noticed about this EP is how sharp the band is. Not only is the production quality fantastic, but each performance exhibits a great deal of hard work and professionalism. It’s that level of expertise that allows for more intricate and creative songwriting and the ability to add a string and horn section that doesn’t feel cluttered or overbearing.
The EP opens on a quiet and emotional admission from Muse to a former relationship and the audience in the song “Good & Well.” The song slowly builds in momentum, adding a meaty drum fill and violin before going all out and showcasing the harder sound the band has been cultivating for years now. With the addition of a small string section and long, twangy guitar notes the band distinctly injects a bit of southern rock into their formula. It’s hard not to nod along while Muse screams and the lead guitar wails out a fuzzy solo, the trademark calling cards of a good rock song.
The next song, “Red Right Hand,” takes on that irreverent tone mentioned earlier, with a more upbeat sound and lyrics detailing the struggle Muse has with accepting the success and praise he doesn’t feel he deserves. My favorite part of this song is the powerful horn section that accompanies the bridge, adding an almost quirky layer to the group’s heavy sound.
Following this, the song “All Things New,” takes a more reserved yet bitter tone than the rest of the album. It seems to reflect the band’s attitude towards relationships and optimistic thinking pretty spot on. Featuring a delightful call and response guitar solo and horn section that puts the bands skill and quality on full display.
“The Alone, Together” is my favorite song off this new EP. It has an undeniably cool, dark and moody rock vibe to it that harkens back to The Foo Fighters early work. This song deals with the fear of never feeling complete as a single person, and the slipping feeling of getting older and older alone. This is beautifully capped with the end of the song slowly dissolving into unintelligible static, mimicking the way one might fear the prospect of dying alone.
In contrast to the rest of the EP, the last song, “Aloha,” takes a tender moment to reflect. Seeming to pay homage to the bands gentler indie side that first got them noticed. “Aloha”, feels like the last stage of acceptance for a relationship that ended years ago, and the first steps into a new stage of life. This tender moment is a fitting conclusion to an EP filled with impassioned questions and emotional rhetoric.
Quiet Company is unsurprisingly impressing with this latest release. Not only is the band tighter than ever, but they are integrating new sounds like a horn and string section that fit in perfectly. While Quiet Company is not the only rock band in Austin, it is certainly one of the best and has been consistently for almost 15 years.