Emo is a tricky genre. Polarizing in all the wrong ways, discussions of what actually is emo music seems to be more relevant nowadays than the actual music itself. A damn shame, since the genre is one of the most satisfying if done right.
At the forefront of the ’emo revival’ movement is The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die (TWIABP). Whereas most of their peers stick to either the mathy Midwest or pop punk-influenced variants, TWIABP have found a niche. Expansive and dense, TWIABP use post-rock as their style of choice, using complex compositions and unusual song structures, punctuated with various instruments like trumpets, cellos and violins. Think of them as the emo Arcade Fire.
Their third album ‘Always Foreign’ marks a shift in their sound. Gone for the most part are the clear emo influences from records past. In its stead are tracks more engaging that are built for concert sing-a-longs. A lot of the songs start off slow before erupting in arena-sized choruses; hell there’s even a pop punk track. For a band thats music can be initially hard to get into, this album is more accessible than anything they’ve ever put out. Considering the lyrical content, it has to be.
Opening track ‘I’ll Make Everything’ has singer David Bello painfully optimistic. ‘I’ll make everything look like it’s happy/’I’ll make everything look like it’s rad.’ Their last LP, 2015’s ‘Harmlessness,’ had the band face their insecurities with downtrodden admission on that album’s opener ‘You Can’t Live There Forever.’ If the latter asked you to take a good hard look at yourself and how you see the world, then the former instructs you to make it however you see fit. The next track though makes that idea more difficult. ‘The present is awful, but it’s all past now/Let it float away,’ Bello hollers on ‘The Future,’ an energetic pop punk cut. There’s hope lying within, but only once we admit that what we’re doing is wrong can we move on.
Couple this song with a few others and it’s clear that the current state of the country is on the band’s mind. They address issues like immigration (‘There’s nothing wrong with Jose’), corruption (Can you still call it a business, if all you do is steal?) and ignorance of current affairs (Will you be faking it when we’re tied to the tracks, denying that there’s rope around our wrists?). The songs are bleak for sure, but the band leaves room for tiny slivers of hope. ‘The world has just been lying… so just hold on until the phantom’s gone,’ Bello advises on ‘The Future.’ Like all good emo bands, TWIABP leave a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s up to us to get there.
More sleek and shiny than anything they’ve ever put out, ‘Always Foreign’ could easily be the band’s best album – granted you like tighter song structures and less ‘random noise.’ It’d be a stretch to classify TWIABP as an emo band given this release, but we’ll leave that to the ‘defend emo’ crowd. TWIABP is one of the most talented bands of the decade, and ‘Always Foreign’ further proves that there’s no other band quite like them.
Always Foreign is out now via Epitaph Records. The albums track-listing is as follows…
01 “I’ll Make Everything”
02 “The Future”
06 “Dillon And Her Son”
07 “Blank #12″
08 “For Robin”
09 “Marine Tigers”
10 “Fuzz Minor”
11 “Infinite Steve”