Monday, August 5, 2013

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Whenever, If Ever

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Whenever, If Ever
Topshelf Records, 2013
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way shall we: The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die is probably the most unforgivably awful band name I’ve heard all year and I spend my free time giving shit to bands from Brooklyn who are too lazy to come up with anything better than some one-word noun. It’s like a joke that got out of control. Maybe it is a reaction to the fact that all of the good band names are taken (which I can’t argue, it’s pretty much true given the aforementioned name-your-generic-band-after-something-equally-generic trend that seems to haunt the indie music world these days). I approached TWIABP&IANLATD’s from a hate-listen standpoint. The band’s name was so convoluted I wanted to make sure their music was equally hateworthy. And then I was wrong. And I love being wrong. It is pretty much my absolute favorite thing about writing about music.

Naturally, I was totally wrong about Connecticut based octet TWIABP&IANLATD’s debut full-length is a remarkably adept collection of sweeping, atmospheric post-rock tinted second-wave emo. Fortunately they have taken all of the best bits of bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Mineral, Texas is the Reason and the Promise Ring for an end result that sounds like American Football reconfigured by Explosions in the Sky. It’s the good emo, and despite that tag that the band is destined to wear if only for a lack of a better term, they band avoids crybaby lyrics and pour all of the emotional resonance into big builds, great melodies, vocal delivery and dreamy guitar lines. My favorite track—“Gig Life”—builds up from a melancholy little acoustic guitar number dripping with homesickness into hooky little jangly guitar licks and a warm, comforting bass line.

I keep coming back to this album because there is something very comforting about it. There’s some nostalgia at work, but I feel like there is a lot of nostalgia in the songs. There’s a theme of Home that seems to run through the album’s ten songs. This is the sound of a lot of the music I loved in high school that made it through the ringer and I still love just as much today. I like that they don’t shroud their music and lyrics in mystery. I like that they sort of remind me of Taking Back Sunday if Taking Back Sunday wasn’t terrible (screamo elements are used sparingly and effectively on Whenever, If Ever). I like that this band has a lot of heart. Sometimes you can’t tell. Sometimes you’ll find a band hell-bent on getting their song on “One Tree Hill” or with some great desire to achieve critical acclaim, but TWIABP&IANLATD just seem to be going for it. They’ve somehow managed to pick and choose elements from the cream of the emo crop and churn out something that, while not all that original, is affecting and promising. And sometime’s that’s all that matters. Personally, I rarely tend to give a damn if a band breaks new ground or not, just as long as I can keep their CD in my car stereo for two weeks and get so hooked that I don’t really want to listen to anything else. Honesty trumps ingenuity any day of the week in my book.

*Or sextet or septet, the line-up appears to be malleable.

"Gig Life"

"Heartbeat on the Brain"

"Getting Sodas"

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