The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die has woken up to an urgent unrest with their third studio album Always Foreign, released via Epitaph Records. It lingers with sudden unfamiliarity clamoring with a restricted resistance in a home that has claimed you unknown. Where do you go if you’re not welcome? If your home refuses your shelter, do you give up and never come back or stand your ground? ‘Please remember as a person it’s the land that’s always foreign.’ The Connecticut unit channels their galvanized defiance into an eleven song epic with a hybrid of familiar topics such as self-help and discovery layered with more political centered urgencies of destruction. This is less a record of self-reflection as it is a mirror staring back at how the world views you and the unfair assumptions and accusations that are thrust upon those who don’t fit the standard.
The record opens with a hope-laced introduction about reinventing the world to be how you want to see it. There’s talk of how much effort goes into making the world beautiful again with phrases like, ‘I’ll make everything look like it’s happy, I’ll make everything look like it’s rad.’ Their past work has existed in its own dreamlike realm they’ve fabricated to make their corner of the world seem a little less scary and a little less tense. “I’ll Make Everything” is very much a light at the end of the pigeon-holed view of diversity. Unlike their previous catalog of altered universes, Always Foreign attempts to attack personal woes as well as higher scale catastrophes such as the presidency. As highlighted in the second single, “Marine Tigers,” which is titled humbly after the memoir vocalist David Bello’s father wrote about immigrating from Puerto Rico to New York in the 40’s on the boat The Marine Tiger. The unjust name-callings he’s lived with ever since being here are featured too. If feeling surreal in your own skin is overwhelming because it doesn’t fit another’s view of perfection, never let that dull your ability to keep reaching further.
The callous track “Hilltopper” is an unforgiving ode to ill-fated tendencies. After the fiasco and eventual departure of their now former bandmate, they beg to forget and for karma to take its rightful course. The arrangement is just as brooding as the predicament must’ve been and it carries over well. It bubbles with anger and simmers with remorseless intensity. In a fit of rage, “Fuzz Minor” demands to be felt just as much as the wound that refuses to heal. The repeating phrase ‘I can’t wait to see you die’ startles us to the core. This leads further down the unrelenting rabbit hole of crumbling faith with “Faker.” Who can you trust when the one you thought would keep their word ties you to the tracks in the path of an oncoming train and denies the actuality of the ropes? Dwindling hope is an ongoing theme on Always Foreign as it gets increasingly more difficult to hold onto. “Faker” ends with the haunting lyric, ‘Six-weeks gone in hyperbolic sleep, we feel our blood pumping weak.’
The most self-reflective lyricism is seen in “Gram” where TWIABP apologizes for being sorry and causing anxiety when it became an inconvenience to a loved one working much too hard for delayed progression. Being one of the singles released before the album, “Gram” introduces us to taking accountability for things that might be out of our control. A fairly solemn oath to moving on. Continuing this notion of harshing looking at what we’ve become, “Dillon And Her Son” questions what we believe in and if we like ourselves still. ‘Can my mind get over what we’ve become?’ and if not, how do we go on?
Although TWIABP is moving on with their sound at a steady rate, they remain cemented in their love for instrumentals. Their use of space and time throughout the record has been condensed however, so as to add the effect of immediacy. There are a series of “blanks” that appear throughout their discography in seemingly random order. “Blank #12” is a dysphoric glimpse into a conversation shrouded in white noise. Parts of this song are found scattered across the album hidden in layers. Addressing the heartache in dealing with the loss of a friend, “For Robin” is told like a story between friends, stating facts without resolution. Standing in disbelief. Sometimes the best way to feel something is leaving it unsaid because, ‘Real true and private loss is so hard to express.’
‘The present was awful, but it’s all past now,’ is cried out on “The Future”. We must create the version of life we want to live, it will never be given to us that way. We must work hard for what we believe and be aware if, ‘You’re gaining something that you’re ungrateful for.’ The album doesn’t end with a perfect ride off into the sunset, but instead leaves us with an all too familiar scene of casualty. Life can be as relentless as we let it become. The world may be a rotten institution that reminds us every chance it gets, but we must still dream.