The World Is a Beautiful Place...
Always Foreign


3.5
great

Review

by Conmaniac CONTRIBUTOR (50 Reviews)
October 3rd, 2017 | 121 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ...yet never comfortable

Almost Foreign is an album attempting to be an anthemic voice for the upset and oppressed; a cry of defiance and a criticism of the ones in power. The swelling, climactic instrumentals and cutting lyrics act as the album’s agents for these lofty goals, both comparable in emotion and impact. Whether it’s actually fruitful in its efforts is up for debate, however, as this album displays obvious highlights yet embarks on many unnecessary detours.

The one-two punch of ‘Dillon and Her Son’ and ‘Blank #12’ practically embodies the stark contrast between TWIABP’s successes and failures; the former is a delicate flurry of cymbal crashes and bubbling guitars while the latter’s reliance on its past devalues the empty ambient-effort almost completely. For an album so adamant about asking for change and development, it is strangely (albeit, humanly) preoccupied with its predecessors’ achievements. It is this contradictory element that plagues the entirety of the record; it’s a constant gradient of poignant political analysis and angst-ridden, unmoving outcries. ‘Faker’s’ question of, “Where do the spirits fade in our weakest dreams, when belief crumbles away" ” would’ve been thought-provoking enough, had it not been followed up with the wincingly hyperbolic, “Where do the fires start in the city streets, when the whole flag burns away" ”. Mix this with the bitter “I can’t wait to see you die ”, and it’s clear to see that the band has abandoned taking the high road as their egregiously counter-productive viewpoints hinder the album’s legitimacy. Although TWIABP can excuse this immaturity due to their genre’s cliches, when an album commits to such ambitious goals the boundaries of a genre shouldn’t restrict the outcome. It’s here that the album’s critical faults can be uncovered fully as the emo/post-rock songs all too often mold to comfortably generic track imprints. Despite it being a clear highlight, ‘Marine Tigers’ shows its cards a bit too early before its Manchester Orchestra-esque choral breakdown produces satisfying chills. It is a fluttering of trumpets and rolling snares that is slightly hindered due to its obviousness, yet it could be argued that it’s this blatancy that makes it all the more likable.

While the album’s intentions and methods can be questioned, at face-value the end-product is a structurally sound form. In fact, it has all the elements one would look for in a diverse yet cohesive record; a well thought out tracklist, a variation of tempos and musical styles, and a consistent lyrical theme. Expectations and faulty viewpoints aside, the arc of the album is satisfyingly rounded; a crescendo of uplifting melodies that slowly unravels into desperation and cathartic egress. Despite the inherent flaws in the oddly pop punk-sounding ‘The Future’, when looked at as a piece of the whole, the thin vocal performance and unoriginal musicality can almost be excused. ‘Faker’s’ glistening guitar loop and cleanly sung melody is reminiscent of any average emo/indie pop act, but it is strangely addicting as the all-too-obvious melody takes on the value of a much-needed checkpoint within Always Foreign. By the time ‘Fuzz Minor’ peaks its timidly post-hardcore head out, the faux-contentment has all but vanished, opting for a more appropriate bitter yet lively sound. And finally, despite the obvious callback to their perennial output, ‘Infinite Steve’ surprisingly levels itself with its alter-ego as it becomes a symphonic amalgamation of TWIABP’s sound realized in the form of dual vocals, provocative strings, and breathlessly lulling trumpet lines. This album realizes its own past, understands the present tenseness, and has a vision for a better future, but in the end, it’s the way that they connect these together that seems disingenuous. A beautifully constructed building with adorning facades only to hide the cold and hollow interior.



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user ratings (135)
Chart.
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thx to Treb for letting me review this one. if I sound frustrated in this review it's because I am, album is a 3.3 or 3.4 and has way too many flaws but the highlights somehow make it all okay.

criticism welcome as always tho (:

upintheair
October 3rd 2017


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This one is actually my favorite by them. Marine Tigers and Infinite Steve are some of their best, to me.

Digging: Glassjaw - Material Control

Lucid
October 3rd 2017


8760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review is quite dense and hard to read, simpler language would make this easier on the reader.

Don't agree with most of the criticism here but ~opinions~

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hmm I think this is as readable as my previous few reviews but I'll see what I can do to dumb it down I guess (unless u have specific suggestions)

what opinions dont u agree with for the sake of discussion?

upintheair
October 3rd 2017


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Me either, I rather enjoy this.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I found this album to be rly enjoyable which is why I gave em a higher score but there are so many flaws to this album it's hard to ignore, hence the more negative rev

hesperus
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


943 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice job as always Con. i sorta disagree with the criticism of the bitterness, as i do think that sort of vitriol can make for good music. but i get the argument, especially considering that it's on a melancholic emo album and not, like, a super-angry hardcore album

upintheair
October 3rd 2017


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For me, the only flaws are how short I'll Make Everything and The Future are. I dig both songs, especially The Future. But, they're just a little short. And Blank #12 is a little...questionable. I love everything else.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

those are my least favs as well man!

and thanks hesp, it's not so much the tone that I have an issue with but rather the ~mindset~ as it kinda preaches unconstructive ways of dealing with "Trump's America"

upintheair
October 3rd 2017


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Marine Tigers and Infinite Steve are my favorites here. The horn lines in each are highlights.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

highlights: Faker, Marine Tiger, Fuzz Minor, Infinite Steve

lows: The Future, Blank #12, I'll Make Everything, Gram(mostly for the music, the lyrics are actually p good)

upintheair
October 3rd 2017


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holy shit, your highlights are all of my top songs on here. Agreed hard.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah seems as though you're just better at brushing off the annoyances riddled throughout the album

Toondude10
October 3rd 2017


11706 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is their best album yet imo, though I understand why people say otherwise

Digging: Machine Head - The Blackening

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the rawness and genuineness of Whenever, If Ever cant be topped in my opinion

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh hell ya thx for the feat!

Lucid
October 3rd 2017


8760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The pairing of vitriol with melancholic music makes total sense to me. It's a weary and deflated vibe, anger at the state of the world with a lack of hope about things improving.

I don't find the lyrics counter-productive. They're concerned with drawing battle lines and seeking solidarity with like-minded people rather than engaging in dialogue with those that seek harm. The band is "keeping their friends close and their enemies as far as away as possible," as aptly stated by Ian Cohen.

Dylan620
October 3rd 2017


3753 Comments


That typo in the title of track 6 = insta 0.5

Digging: Wilco - Being There

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 3rd 2017


20089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Lucid agreed with your first point completely, our differences lie more so in the album's execution rather than the thought alone

and while I can see your point, keeping your enemies as far away as possible is exactly why there's so much division today between the left/right, rich/poor, etc. that's exactly why I think a lot of the lyrics are counter-productive because they give ppl the easy way out while trying to appear like it's the right thing to do. this coupled with their very questionable online presence (the "kill all cops" tweet comes to mind) makes some of these lyrics upsetting to me.

I do agree that engaging with ppl that seek harm is not the solution but neither is drawing lines that could push away some willing collabortators

neekafat
October 3rd 2017


6764 Comments


in b4 sowing

Will read after class, but I'm assuming it's gonna be great so here's a preemptive spiritual pos (;



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