The long and melodramatic name of the group. The wide and often changing range. The grandiose, post-rock approach to emo. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die has always been about growing up. So it was surprising when, after the release of their third feature film Always a stranger in 2017, they returned home.
Always a stranger came at a time when the “emo revival” that TWIABP had helped to advance was running out of steam. Many key groups in the so-called fourth wave of emo were breaking up or disappearing into indefinite hiatuses. The air of critical time has passed to new sensations. it didn’t help that Always a stranger, despite the burning political rage within it, couldn’t help but feel a bit restrained and disappointing about Harmlessness. As the years went by and TWIABP remained silent, it stood to reason that this group could shut it down as well – especially after the departure of several members, some acrimoniously, and the release of the career line-up of 2019. Matching works. A lot of bands spend four years between releases, but there was enough speculation about the future of TWIABP that they felt compelled to put “We Never Broke Up and We Never Will” in their album cover notes. new LP.
This album, Illusionary walls, finds the Philly-based unit reduced to five members: David Bello on vocals and guitar, Katie Dvorak on vocals and synths, Steven Buttery on drums and percussion, Josh Cyr (the only founding member of the group) to bass and backing vocals; and production maestro Chris Teti on “guitar, vocals, bass and lineup”. Structurally, they are closer to a “normal group” than they have ever been. But going beyond their scene’s expiration date with a reduced lineup has by no means hampered the ambitions of this group. If anything, this is the heaviest, most progressive, and daring version of TWIABP yet. Yes Always a stranger was their Local company, the simplest deception after the revolutionary masterpiece, this new is their The most lamentable tragedy, intensifying the old bombast in every way imaginable.
The group documented on these 11 tracks is immediately recognizable as The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die: the reverberating arpeggios that set the scene; the passionate, interwoven moans of Bello and Dvorak; lively and surreal words about predominance, against all odds, about depression, hatred and all kinds of weariness in the world; the peaceful coexistence of slow grandeur and pop accessibility. Some tracks, like “Queen Sophie For President”, arise with an urgent sweetness resembling Great Grandpa. Others, like “Trouble,” soar like Sunny Day Real Estate channeling Built To Spill. Bello’s piercing melodic tenor continues to evoke a brave underdog moving forward storm after storm, and Dvorak’s more conventional soprano always appears just when Bello might otherwise start to squeak.
The things they say with these voices are always remarkable. It can be easy to miss most of the lyrics when taken in such an expansive soundtrack, but TWIABP deserves credit for producing lyrics that are as immersive and moving as the music – things that, in the same way , might appear pretentious if they were not so skillfully executed. They continue to be brilliant in painting scenes, like the Breathless Getaway in “We Saw Birds Through The Hole In The Ceiling”, and in creating manifestos, like the opening track “Afraid To Die “. Often, the album evokes an environmental, emotional or economic disaster, sometimes suddenly:. Sometimes they can’t help but laugh at how fucked up everything is: ‘We might take our lives too seriously / What is comedy other than accepting the real / When you don’t can’t you afford the hospital / And the floor is just banana peels? ” But there is always a silver lining with this group; they haven’t forgotten the tricks they perfected on the career high point of 2015 Harmlessness, especially this ability to ward off the triumph of desolation.
At the same time, the difference in feeling between the last two albums and Illusionary walls is quite striking, mainly because TWIABP never rang more metal than they do here. Fiercely technical guitar riffs tear apart song after song, high in the mix as if lit by spotlights. The first single “Invading The World Of The Guilty As A Spirit Of Vengeance” features finger tapping straight out of Guitar Center. “Ded In The Prison Of The Holy Office” becomes neoclassical at the end, in a way that evokes “Carol Of The Bells” of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Beyond the shredding, there’s a chaotically loud girth to a lot of these songs that borders on black metal at times. “Your Brain Is A Rubbermaid” puts the Emperor in Godspeed You! Black Emperor – admittedly a strange thing to say about a three minute song with a brilliantly melodious lead vocals from Dvorak. And then there are the last two tracks, fraternal twin epics that last 15 and 20 minutes respectively, dominating Illusionary walls and maybe even the band‘s career to date.
Those last two songs… hoo boy. The World Is could have come back with just those two tracks, called them an album, and no one would have flinched or complained. These are two incredible pieces of music, sprawling but densely filled with self-referencing sounds and Easter eggs, each a journey in itself. Both instantly rank among the finest achievements of this group. First comes “Infinite Josh”, with a title reminiscent of the group’s 2011 EP Josh is dead and music that never ceases to pile up on itself, always rising skyward in prismatic echoes and choreographed lightning. “Our dreams are drowning in a river of present needs,” Bello repeats in one of the album’s most touching metaphors. “The years float like dead leaves.” Bello’s poetic imagery moves along the horizontal axis, but the music behind him continues to move vertically, intensifying as he goes. It’s like watching all of creation soar into oblivion.
Then, just when you thought they couldn’t push themselves to more gargantuan extremes, there’s “Less Dread,” a grand finale that also functions as a sort of opener for the band’s career at. this day. It begins with the rising drama and rousing oration of Christopher June Zizzamia, a spoken word artist who has toured with TWIABP in support of their collaborative EP. Between bodies in 2014. Eventually, Bello sings about the evacuation of all human and animal populations from this dying planet, and the riffs sway, weave, dive and dive, and a modest string section hits like a whole fucking orchestra. “You believe in a god who watches,” sings Dvorak. “I think the world is fucked up and brutal.” As layers pile up and tension pours into the release, the voices of Bello and Dvorak come together in one final burst of self-mythology: we’ll make it more than just a shelter / If everyone is there belongs, this will keep us all together / If you’re afraid of dying, so am I.
From its massive reach to its resilient humanistic idealism, “Fewer Afraid” conveys just about everything this group has always excelled at. If TWIABP was looking for a cornerstone for their career, they couldn’t do much better than this. Particularly when paired with “Infinite Josh,” this could easily be the sound of a band sticking landing across their entire discography. However, if we are to believe these liner notes, this crew has no interest in stopping, and Illusionary walls is not a final statement. Good. The world needs such over-the-top bands, in love with their own vision, unafraid to create a racquet as big as their feelings and ideas and fully capable of making it happen. As long as it takes them, I can’t wait to hear them try to dominate this album. But for now, I’ll take advantage of this last attempt.
Illusionary walls was released on 8/10 on Epitaph.
Other albums to note this week:
• James Blake Friends who break your heart
• Shannon Lay’s Geist
• Magdalena Bay Mercurial World
• Don Toliver’s The life of a donation
• WH Lung’s Vanities
• Efterklang’s Wind flowers
• BADBADNOTGOOD’s Talk Memory
• Sam Fender Seventeen in progress
• Lala Lala’s I want the door to open
• Karen Peris A song is high above the lawn
• Porches’ Soft hold all day!
• Natalie Hemby’s Have ants
• S. Raekwon Where i am now
• Ladyhawke Time passes
• We are scientists Angry
• Banoffee’s Tears
• Daughters of the Church Still blooming
• Trivium In the courtyard of the dragon
• Taraka Larson, former member of Prince Rama Welcome to lost paradise
• Jerusalem in my heart Qalaq
• The walled city of Kowloon Piecework
• Dillon Francis’ Happy machine
• James Arthur Everything will make sense in the end
• John Coltrane Supreme Love Live in Seattle
• Spiritual cramps Here is more bad news PE
• Fauness’ girl no more PE
• Battle Ave eponymous EP