Review Summary: Connecticut band triumphs amidst a growingly stagnant scene
“The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind happiness / not always being / so very much fun.”
So begins the poem ‘Pictures of the Gone World 11’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poem that sums up the general feeling of Whenever, If Ever. It’s one of finding solace in the bad times, one of total catharsis, one of accepting all the *** and just pushing on.
Formed in 2009, Connecticut band The World Is A Beautiful Place’s debut album has been a long time coming. 2010’s debut EP Formlessness cemented their current status as figureheads of the “emo revival” scene (along with notable bands Snowing and Empire! Empire! I was a lonely estate).
Josh Is Dead
followed in the same year, and in 2011 they released the split EP Are Here To Help You
with Deer Leap. Each release showed a consistent and steady progress of their typical second-wave emo/post-rock fusion sound, combining crashing crescendos with twinkly melodies and emotional rhythms and vocals. Whenever, If Ever
is no different in this respect.
What’s important is just how vital it is.
Each one of its ten tracks feels like a head-rush. “Picture of a Tree That Doesn't Look Okay” builds over crashing symbols and vocal harmonies reminiscent of American Football before exploding into a mosh pit frenzy echoing that of any late 90s underground pop punk band. “Ultimate Steve” begins with subtle chords fresh from the Godspeed You! Black Emperor notebook of crescendos, before it kicks into life into what can only be described as one of the most life-affirming apocalypses set to record, with the lyrics “Let it tears us apart and shake our being / ‘Cause everything I see and all that I touch isn’t worth believing.”
“Fightboat” finds its place nudged neatly between the more melancholic brand of second-wave emo to the more excitable bunch that have populated the more math rock brand over the past couple of years; the mournful trumpets that beckon the track in, once again, reference American Football, and this is immediately placed in contrast to the mathy drums that recall Algernon Cadwallader. Meanwhile, “You Will Never Go To Space” places subtly droning feedback against strummed upbeat chords, going as far as sounding not unlike Explosions In The Sky.
Whenever, If Ever
places itself in the context with the emo revival of late by combining the sounds of all the bands and yet still sounding completely fresh. It sounds like music that needed to be made, for the sake of its creators and its listeners. Make no mistake, this is an important album.
This album finds itself in a scene after Snowing broke up. After Algernon Cadwallader broke up. A few months after Tigers Jaw broke up. The scene that has breathed life into a once stagnant genre filled with naught but hazy teenage nostalgia of kissing on park benches and throwing your fists in the air at shows has become just that once again. The fact that it was rushed out a month before its penned release date due to it leaking is kind of ironic; it almost seems that this album was destined to be heard.
“We are the walls of formless shapes / and overbearing weights” begins final track “Getting Sodas”. It has an exhausting yet tireless energy to it, the exuberant riffs frequently changing in tempo, from frenetic to full of emotional weight. At 3:10 it quietens out, then builds. For the next near three minutes, that’s all it does. There is no release. The drums tower, the vocals tower, the guitars tower, but it all caves in.
We’re left with the lyric “If you’re not afraid to die, then so am I”. Emo is dead. Long live emo.