About a month ago, The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die released their debut full-length Whenever, If Ever to deserved critical acclaim and modest commercial success. This didn’t stop singer/guitarist Derrick Shanholtzer from releasing Where Were You While We Were Getting High? under the moniker of One Hundred Year Ocean last Tuesday. At first, it may seem slightly counterintuitive to release two records in such a short time, especially given that the overall sound of each is comprised of a very similar brand of pop-punk and post-rock-influenced emo. However, further listening proves that the thematic contrast provided by the new EP makes it more than worth listening to.
On an entirely superficial level, Where Were You While We Were Getting High? feels like it could be a collection of four unreleased TWIABP tracks. Even down to the cover art, the two works are almost identical stylistically. The feedback-filled buildup of opener “Hospital Town” is instantly recognizable, and the track progresses into a delightfully slow burn that sounds both great and familiar. The trend of similarities to Whenever, If Ever continues on the rest of the EP, whether it be the horns and faint moog keyboard on “Soco Amaretto Bud Light Lime” or the speedy pop sensibility presented on “Apples.”
Of course, it could get tiresome listening to previously fleshed out ideas, but Shanholtzer adds a thematic twist to the formula of his primary work, and this is most apparent on the fantastic closer “Magnetic Curses.” Lyrics like, “Such few things make it worth the hell of being a person” and “So where is our hope? Or when do we get paid?” are delivered through tortured vocals, and, while they might feel typical in terms of average emo and pop-punk initially, their contrast with the often upbeat songwriting makes for an interesting combination.
The pessimistic lyricism is present throughout each song and it ultimately serves as an antithesis to Whenever, If Ever, which is a decidedly uplifting experience. Sure, there is acknowledgement of broken dreams and the everyday struggles of life, but in the end, the heavy messages of unity seem to overshadow these elements. The end product is an album that feels equally inspiring and realistic. Where Were You While We Were Getting High? serves as the polar opposite of these ideas, because it very much is about getting bogged down in the more negative aspects of just existing. This dichotomy makes it an engaging listen for TWIABP fans but more importantly, it makes for an engaging and emotional experience that should be appreciated by all.