Release Date: Sep 29, 2017
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die is a band that seems set on proving truth in their own lengthy moniker—or at least doing their part in that increasingly lofty pursuit. In 2017, the band finds itself in a world where that challenge is a much steeper one than when they formed in 2009, or released their debut full-length, Whenever, If Ever, in 2013. It was the closing track of that album, ‘Getting Sodas’, that really established this challenge with its final lyrics:.
Like most floridly-named, heavily populated post-rock acts before them, the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die are utopians. Their vision of Earth 2 was fully realized on 2015’s brilliant Harmlessness, a marquee indie event that celebrated feminist vigilante justice, made evil cower in its own shadow, and encouraged everyone to pursue self-care and self-actualization with wild abandon. Two years later, its opener “You Can’t Live There Forever” plays as a kind of cruel foreshadowing of a paradise lost. For one thing, that song’s lead vocal came from D.
That’s no longer the case on their third LP, Always Foreign, despite considerable off-the-field turbulence during the making of it, both within the band - guitarist Nicole Shanholtzer was fired last year - and outwith it, not least in terms of last November’s U.S. presidential election. The Philadelphia outfit weave both those issues into their lyrics, with “Marine Tigers” and “Fuzz Minor” both scored through with a sharply polemical strain that’s new for the group.
The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die is a band that specializes in facilitating catharsis. Given the state of American society and politics in 2017, the catharsis the band taps into on new album Always Foreign sounds more necessary— and terrifying— than ever before. Trump may not be mentioned by name, but what he represents is all over Foreign.
The third studio long-player from the Connecticut-based indie/emo rock troupe, Always Foreign finds the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die nixing the mostly positive vibes of their two prior outings in favor of a deep dive into miseries both internal and external. Raw and occasionally apoplectic, but no less big-hearted than 2015's sleeve-bearing Harmlessness, Always Foreign wants to believe in the promise of utopia, but the caustic confluence of the 2016 election and the acrimonious departure of a former bandmate seem to have eaten through the band's thick skin. It's the latter ordeal that casts the biggest shadow, with multiple tracks dealing with the situation with alarming specificity; "Hilltopper" ("Can't seem to erase you/I threw out all the records you're on/I hope evil can see this, and you get what you deserve"), while reliably anthemic and melodic, is particularly savage.
2013's Whenever, If Ever ended with the statement: The world is a beautiful place but we have to make it that way. Whenever you find home we'll make it more than just a shelter. And if everyone belongs there it will hold us all together. If you're afraid to die, then so am I. When it comes to The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die (TWIABP for short), this track "Getting Sodas" wasn't just the most fitting for a cathartic, eye-opening record that may well have shaped the indie/emo revival as we knew it, but it was also an emotional swell unlike any other I've experienced.