The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
Epitaph Records · September 29th, 2017
On their new full length, TWIABP treads new sonic and lyrical ground while maintaining elements of their old sound.
The new album finds the band splitting their time between quick, driving rock songs and long, slow burners. As is usually the case with them, the latter is more interesting than the former. ‘The Future’ and ‘Hilltopper’ are perfectly well done songs, but they don’t have as much lyrical or sonic depth as songs like ‘Faker,’ ‘Gram,’ or ‘Marine Tigers.’ For instance, the drum fills on ‘The Future’ are satisfying, yet cliché, making the track feel like a dozen other rock tunes you’ve already heard. Likewise, ‘Hilltopper’ catches the band reverting to their early palette of sounds in a way that feels more like stylistic backtracking than artistic consistency. I can understand the desire to hold on to the band’s roots, but these tracks would have benefited from focusing on evolving the band’s sound rather than returning to the early stages of their career.
That being said, The World Is A Beautiful Place shows considerable growth throughout the rest of the album. Tracks like ‘Faker’ show that it’s possible to tread new ground while still calling upon familiar elements of the band’s past. At first, the tone doesn’t match the band’s previous work, but tension gradually builds until the track explodes into a frantic and emotional rock song. It’s a perfect combination of the group’s older, raw style and their new, more polished instrumentation. On the song ‘Gram,’ the group continues to show they’ve matured, providing us with lyrics like “They locked up our fathers for twenty / Now they limit our culture to Fridays / You had to work four jobs and used two phones / But the drug store still ends up with all our money.” The instrumentation on ‘Gram’ is also a step forward, coupling subtle synthetic swells with light percussion.
However, my favorite moments on the album are in the second half. On ‘For Robin,’ lead vocalist Josh Cyr strips things back. He begins his earnest and heartfelt performance over nothing more than acoustic plucking, which is certainly something I wasn’t expecting to hear on this album. TWIABP is typically known for their grand and complex arrangements, and this is a nice change of pace. I also can’t help but tear up a bit at the opening lyrics, “Mike called once a week / And then he called once a month / He called once every few years / Which turned into never at all.” The grand and complex arrangements are still present. The gradual build up on ‘Marine Tigers’ climaxes with a chaotic and jarring horn section, giving the longest track on the album a worthwhile payoff. Patience truly is a virtue. ‘Fuzz Minor’ connects the last three tracks fluidly, making sure that the pacing of album doesn’t drag. After all, the last four tracks account for over half the album’s total run time. Then we get a smooth transition into the album’s closer, ‘Infinite Steve,’ a nice callback to the closer ‘Ultimate Steve’ from the band’s debut album, Whenever, If Ever. The beautiful violin arrangement and layers of ensemble vocals show once again that the band can merge their past and present sounds with success, and overall the song is a perfect way to close the album.
Listen to Always Foreign here: