Noted as one of the frontrunners for the emo revival of the 2010s, The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die is a nine piece indie punk band from Connecticut. Their music can be described by their use of confessional lyrics and a large range of instruments that make a “full” band sound. Although their discography includes a lot of EPs with great content on each, the full length albums tell entire stories through the progression of tracks and are highly regarded as an accumulation of the best of TWIABP. Harmlessness is the second studio album to be released by The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and will be available on Sept. 25, 2015 for purchase. A streaming version of the album is currently available for free on Bandcamp, or you can purchase it digitally for $7.
Harmlessness brings a new chapter for the band by creating a flow of motion from start to finish. The tracks blend into each other so well that the album doesn’t feel like it’s made up of individual songs, it’s more of an elongated soundtrack. The switching of male and female vocals brings depth to the album, and layers of harmonies make the feeling more visceral. An ode to realizing, forgiving and carrying on, Harmlessness is warm-sounding with heavy impact.
Because the themes mentioned in Harmlessness are similar to “Whenever, If Ever”, it’s easy to draw comparisons between the two full-lengths. However, Harmlessness exceeds all expectations. The album draws on floaty riffs that fade into the background and pull forward at just the right times, allowing space for the sweet twangs of the synthesizer to shine through. Every different instrument is used at full potential, with the right sounds pronouncing at the right times to give an unparalleled listening experience.
The album starts with “You Can’t Live There Forever,” a kick-off to ignorance of people in the world around us. With lyrics littered with rhetorical questions, the track ends with the important phrase “we think that the world is alright, and that’s a lie.” It’s interesting to note that the name of the band, The World Is a Beautiful Place, is taken very seriously throughout the lyrics of “Whenever, If Ever” but is torn apart on the first track of Harmlessness. This could be a progression of TWIABP as a band, or possibly a further stab at self-realization through breaking ignorance. Either way, it is a powerful start.
The third track “January 10th, 2014” was released early as a single and is easily one of my favorites from the album. The song draws from the story of Diana the Hunter of Bus Drivers, a woman that killed at least two bus drivers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico during 2013. The news of the killer spread rapidly through the city, plaguing its citizens with fear of the unknown for months. The track encourages everyone to draw on bravery and hope for something better despite atrocious things that have happened in the past, citing the killer as an example of past horrors. “We are brave and strong, but don’t you quiver.”
Another special mention should be made for the final two tracks on Harmlessness. “I Can Be Afraid of Anything” and “Mount Hum” are the finale of a brilliant climb. They summarize the full album through a post-rock build up to the chanted phrases of high impact. “I Can Be Afraid of Anything” revels in the phrase “I really did dig my own hole, but I’m climbing out,” with the entire band breaking into whimsical harmonies at the height of the song. “Mount Hum” does the same, but in the classic TWIABP style of layered lyrics. Much like the infamous “Getting Sodas” from “Whenever, If Ever,” “Mount Hum” finished off an impressive album with a message that remains even after the track ends:
“Come off and fall, so that I can pick you up. Our homes are not the kind of places you own. We were ghosts even then, errant sunlight on our skin. Sunlight, sunlight. And we drove out to the bluffs, raced each other through the dust. We’re all going to die.”
Each song on Harmlessness manages to carry some sort of weight, and it is impossible to list all of the reasons and meanings. Some important positive mentions are on “Mental Health” and “Rage Against the Dying of the Light,” where the lead singer chants “you are normal and healthy to forgive yourself” and “I am alive, I deserve to be.” Overall, the album exposes the dark points we all experience throughout our lifetimes with questions that we have all thought about at one point or another (like the emotional line “Whose side am I on?” from track four’s “The Word Lisa”). Despite the hardships we all have to pick ourselves up and keep moving until we reach a beautiful place.
Easily one of the best new albums to come from 2015, Harmlessness should be at the top of everyone’s “need to listen to” list.
Tracks to listen to: “January 10th, 2014,” “Rage Against the Dying of the Light,” “I Can Be Afraid of Anything,” “Mount Hum.”
While attending the University of Georgia for magazine journalism and music business, Maria still finds time to binge watch The X-Files and collect art socks. The proud owner of a floor length fur coat, Maria plans to Throwdown with Bobby Flay and finally stop procrastinating, eventually. Her passions include black clothing, petting other people's cats and making blanket forts in her apartment, but she is also above-average excited about horoscopes, bento boxes and emo music.