Review Summary: We are as harmless as the thoughts in our heads.
The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die were in a situation that many bands find themselves in leading up to the release of their sophomore full-length album. Having achieved resounding critical success with their debut album, it was unsure whether they would be able to craft a meaningful follow-up, and capitalize on the success of Whenever, If Ever
. After releasing a string of unexciting and mediocre EPs, I’m glad to say that The World is a Beautiful Place… have found their way back to emo-revival perfection.
First things first; Harmlessness
is long. Fifty three minutes and forty seconds long, to be exact. Yet despite the near hour long runtime, there is hardly a dull moment to be found on the album. From the acoustic opener “You Can’t Live There Forever” to the immense and beautiful eight-minute closer “Mount Hum”, nearly every song brings something fresh and interesting to the table, preventing the album from becoming stale and maintaining the listener’s interest. Each and every note of every single song feels like a necessary and important factor towards the albums success. Adding to the effectiveness of the album, is the way each song seamlessly weaves its way into the next, creating a sense of cohesion that wasn’t present on Whenever, If Ever
Lyrically, The World is a Beautiful Place… maintain the same hopeful existentialist mindset that was present throughout Whenever, If Ever
. They express feelings of doubt, and worry, all the while putting a positive spin on them, invoking feelings of hope and optimism. The lyrics here are both incredibly personal and endlessly relatable; the only exception being early album highlight and first single, “January 10th, 2014” which details the story of Diana, the Hunter of Bus Drivers. Here, The World is a Beautiful Place… completely astound lyrically, and with the departure of their original vocalist, new frontman David Bello and keyboardist Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak trade off beautifully written, conversational lyrics that detail the story of Diana.
There is an apparent post-rock influence in the instrumentation on Harmlessness
. While this is nothing new to the band, The World is a Beautiful Place… have managed to take the immense buildups and bombastic climaxes of their debut and elevate them into a completely new level. Almost every song on the album features an enormous and emotional climax, and while it may seem as if they would begin to lose their impact, The World is a Beautiful Place… circumnavigate this problem with the expertly crafted and abundant softer sections, adding a greater contrast in sound and increasing the impact of each crescendo.
Each aspect of Harmlessness
is perfectly executed throughout the entire album, but the band reaches newfound levels of songwriting maturity on the final two tracks of the album. Making up roughly fifteen minutes of the albums runtime, the last two tracks take every instrumental and lyrical nuance The World is a Beautiful Place… picked up over the last two years and perfectly combines them into a satisfying finish. Penultimate track “I Can Be Afraid of Anything” nearly feels like the end of the album as it builds into its fast, uplifting, punky outro. Yet, it is the closer, “Mount Hum” that perfectly wraps up the album. As it sinks into one last soft and quiet section, you are lured into false sense of closure until layers upon layers of both instruments and vocals are added and the album explodes into its most lush and full moment, with David Bello belting out lyrics reminiscent of Whenever, If Ever
’s closer, “Getting Sodas.”
The World is a Beautiful Place… have managed to surpass their debut in almost every single way. As the final song builds into its gorgeous and extremely climactic finish, it’s difficult to not be in complete awe. What they have managed to craft here is an absolutely beautiful piece of art, and fans of the band or genre owe it to themselves to add this to their collection.