Comrades – For We Are Not Yet, We Are Only Becoming
It seems that is record is one that expresses a beautiful tension found throughout life and spiritual journeys. There’s a phrase used by Christian scholars and theologians describing the here and now “already and not yet.” This refers to God’s Kingdom. It is here but not fully realized. The gears are turning but the process isn’t over yet.
A particularly poignant lyric stood out to me right away on my second listen through of the record. On Rest, Laura McElroy muses “Sleep is the brother of death.” It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? One thing is so treasured by all; the other is feared.
There’s a beautiful irony in Comrades’ music in general. When I first heard them (in that basement with 15 other people, years ago), I was blown away. How can music be so delicate and intense at the same time? Laura McElroy’s vocals are unassuming and serene; Joe McElroy’s guitar licks eloquently composed and played. Yet everything is executed with everything turned up to 11 and then some. “Hollow Point,” arguably one of the most intense songs of the record, drives this point home. The rough vocals are brought in by new full time member John Gaskill, formerly of Solid State Records’ Life in Your Way (helloooo senior year of high school and me blasting “Making Waves” on my burned CD). Sidenote: Gaskill was also the fill-in drummer at that very first Comrades show in that basement I attended.
My only real criticism of this record might be that the pattern of soft-vocals and loud instrumentation (back and forth) is a little repetitive at times. However, I maintain that Comrades are still one of the most underrated bands in the game. This unequivocally is not in spite of this record. This is inclusive of this record. The band’s evolution away from a post-rock act feels natural and needed. The last two tracks are particularly poignant in this regard; “Half Light” feels like it could fit on a playlist inspired by Future of Forestry. It’s a mindset of worship and freedom. I’ve always been the sort of guy that reacts to music based more on feeling than lyricism, and this album has emotion in spades. “Nightingale” functions as a lovely climax to this album to drive some more feels. I find myself struggling to articulate why this is thus.
May you find a band that you love where you struggle to articulate why you love them. Maybe you’ll find one in Comrades – and once the record ends, it auto-repeats to track one and “Fault Lines” will feel just as welcoming as ever.