Always Foreign, the third LP released by Connecticut natives The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, is a collection of songs that is both boldly political and bravely personal. With soaring arrangements and brutally honest lyrics, TWIABP expands upon their already experimental sound. The lyrical content is scattered, ranging from an unapologetic taunt at their former guitarist/vocalist to the opioid epidemic to coping with loss. Through even the darkest of themes, TWIABP finds a way to add a silver lining, leaving the listener with a glimmer of hope to hold onto.
The album begins with the melodic and uplifting, “I’ll Make Everything”, a track filled with delicate harmonies and a lovely horn accompaniment, setting the melancholic mood for the rest of the album. Right off the bat, in “Hilltopper”, the band demonstrates how unapologetic they are, sending a strong message to their former guitarist with scathing lyrics like “Keep us in the newsfeed/Watch as things improve/I hope evil can see this and you get what you deserve”.
“Gram”, another notable track on the front half of the album, delves into the opioid epidemic with a profound story of anxiety, addiction and the horrors of Big Pharma. Vocalist David Bello softly sings, “You had to work four jobs and use two phones/But the drugstore still ends up with all our money” over a steady drumbeat and melodic harp. Pain seeps out of this track, the bravely honest lyrics forcing the listener to confront this major issue that plagues our society.
The shifting of energy that occurs throughout this collection of songs is eclectic and exciting, transitioning from the soft and moody “Gram” to an upbeat punk track about wanting to hold onto youth and trying to not become bitter with age. These different energies and lyrical themes, which may not seem cohesive upon first listen, work together to form an album that is captivating to listen to, leaving the listener constantly wondering what direction it will go next.
Speaking to that idea of unpredictability, the grungy fun that defines “Dillon and Her Son” is closely followed by a heartbreaking track about loss. The harrowing instrumental on “For Robin” is accompanied by hauntingly honest lyrics including, “Real, true and private loss is so hard to express”. It’s honestly things like this that truly makes the album, allowing the listener to find a connection point in the experimental chaos that encompasses the album.
In perhaps the most important and politically charged tracks on the album, “Marine Tiger”, The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die tackles the topic of immigration head-on. The band tells a riveting story about coming to America based on personal experiences. Though it is musically very similar to many of the bands earlier releases, “Marine Tiger” finds its distinction in its brilliant candor. Bello urges the listener, “Please remember as a person, it’s the land that’s always foreign”. In a politically troubled world, where immigrants are taught to live in fear and shame, TWIABP forces the listener to hear a personal story about coming to a new, and as the band descries it, broken nation. This urges understanding and compassion, two things that are absolutely necessary in today’s times. The courage and heart in this track are undoubtedly one of the greatest strengths on Always Foreign.
Seamless transitions weave together “Marine Tiger”, “Fuzz Minor”, and the closing track on the album, “Infinite Steve”. As the title suggests, this track feels infinite. Grandiose instrumentals and soaring vocals are the perfect way to end this dauntless album. On Always Foreign, The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die find the powerful medium between the political and personal, tackling a range of socially relevant and universally important topics.
Emo | Epitaph