The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever
Record Label: Topshelf Records
Release Date: June 18, 2013
In music, there are “generic” bands that don’t stick out in any way, shape, or form, there are bands who are unique, but still remind you of something else, and then there are bands that unlike anything that you, the listener, has never heard before. For myself, one of those bands is The World Is a Beautiful Place and I’m No Longer Afraid to Die. Despite having one of the longest band names I’ve ever heard, their sound is really unique. In fact, it’s so unique that I really don’t know how to classify this band. Are they indie? Are they emo? Are they post-rock? Rather than one of those things, they’re ALL of them. They’re a rather strange band, and even stranger in the sense that they have eight members, one of which plays the cello. Is that something you’ve ever heard before? I’ve been really into music for the last seven years, and that’s something I’ve never seen before. I digress, however. They may be a strange band, but they’re quite unique and enjoyable. After releasing a series of EPs and split EPs, they’ve finally released their debut album Whenever, If Ever on Topshelf Records. I’ve listened to a little bit of this band, but never enough to really get into them, so in all honesty, this is my first proper release from the band. While this band is quite unique, this record is what I call a “grower.” It takes a few listens to really get into it. At first, it may come across as a pretentious and artsy indie/emo record, but it’s much more than that. This style of music, which combines post-rock, indie-rock, math-rock, and emo is called “Twinkle,” mainly referring to the very dainty and light guitar tones, paired with very long instrumentals and odd time signatures. Whenever, If Ever may only be around 35 minutes, but the majority of it is an instrumental record. Plenty of vocals from the band do show up throughout, so it’s not totally, but there are a lot of really atmospheric instrumentals that pop up. Even so, the instrumentation is what steals the show, and for good reason. There are eight members in this band, so there’s definitely a nice variety of instrumentation on this record.
As I said, the record is a bit of a grower, because it takes a few listens to really grasp it. Records like this are usually best listened to a few times, because if you’re not careful, you can miss something. That’s only a bad thing if you’re in a hurry, because there is a lot going on in this record. No two songs are alike, which is really interesting, since that can’t be said for a lot of bands and records today. However, something can be unique, but it doesn’t mean that it’s good, either. Well, The World Is a Beautiful Place doesn't have to worry about that, because this record is unique, but the 35-minute run time works to their advantage. There’s a lot going on in this record, but it’s not too much where the listener can’t handle it, or certain things go unnoticed or forgotten. There’s a nice balance between variety and creativity. While this record is one of my favorites of the year, it’s not necessarily the highest. Although, if there were a list of most creative records of the year, this would be quite high on the list.
The record starts off with “Blank #9,” and one thing that I noticed right off the bat is that the song titles are kind of weird. They’re strange, and they don’t do much for me, personally. That’s a very slight nitpick, however, and the song titles themselves shouldn’t be representative of the entire record. But this song seems to serve as an intro track, and it’s rather quiet, with a slow guitar riff and a violin in the background, but it does gather steam eventually. It leads into second track “Heartbeat In the Brain,” which shows off the band’s post-rock-meets-emo sound. I’ll admit that right off the bat, the one thing that I don’t really enjoy about this record are frontman David Bello vocals. They’re not bad, but they’re really off-putting, because they’re so whiny and flat. Regardless, it doesn’t make the record any less enjoyable, his vocals take a bit of getting used to. Back to the song, however. The six-minute track goes through a lot of twists and turns, as the whole record does. At one point, it’s quite bouncy and chaotic, but then it mellows out. This is how many of the tracks on the record are, with some interludes thrown in between. Out of the ten tracks, only six reach three minutes or over. I could merely just say to listen to the whole entire record, and I wouldn’t be exaggerating it. This record is something to marvel at, because it’s a great impression of the “emo revival” going on in the last few years, but they do bring something unique to the record player as well. Every song is quite unique, and ultimately, a musical experience. Plenty of sounds litter the record, so one song doesn’t truly represent it, but the first couple songs on the record do give a nice hint as to what you, the listener, will find. The former is a quiet, tension-building track that ultimately serves as an intro (even though there are interlude-esque tracks) on the record, and the latter is sort of what you’ll find on the record – chaotic post-rock-meets-emo. While a few songs may stand out, this is a record that’s best enjoyed listening to the whole way through.