We’re so late to the party with this one, but it’s such a spectacular album we couldn’t resist sharing our views on it. Originally released in June last year via TopShelf Records, ‘Whenever, If Ever’ is the debut record from Connecticut natives The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. The best band name we’ve heard for a long time, it’s reassuring their music lives up to such an inspirational introduction.
The band is currently an eight-piece but ten people helped create ‘Whenever, If Ever’. Not one of these members is left out as the songs glide effortlessly into each other. From the subtle understatement of the opening ‘Blank #9’ to the more frenetic and upbeat synth-led ‘Heartbeat in the Brain’, two songs in and you know you’re listening to something quite unusual, unique and unequivocal. When David Bello sings ‘So when will I see you again? I know a few chords that could make you miss me. They ring and decay in this garage every few days. Just trying to figure out this beat’, not only do you feel the sense of loneliness that being in a band can bring but also can’t help sympathise with his current predicament. With the cello adding extra depth, the soaring post-rock elements surround the broken vocals as the band pleads: ‘It never felt like this. Tell me we belong here.’
Group chants start the spiky and playful punk of ‘Fightboat’, a song that recalls Fugazi at their angstiest, while ‘Picture of a Tree that Doesn’t Look Okay’ offers a more introspective and gently anthemic approach in its opening moments. Looking back at growing up and getting older, the lyrics ask plenty of philosophical and rhetorical questions, before the song gathers pace and the chanted vocals of ‘I’ve been searching for this, something that I can run away with. It’s a life-changing decision’ prove that sometimes escaping is the only option. With different lines being shouted by various band members, often at the same time, this makes for a rewarding repeated listen. The Conor Oberst-esque lyrics continue throughout the rest of the album as the band discusses everything from immortality, ‘Did we dream when we were skeletons or did we just wish for skin?’, to deep questions about the nature of life, ‘Are we powerless against our youth escaping?’. The down-to-earth themes add a sense of familiarity too as breakdowns and becoming a wreck are paired with worries about the landlord being pissed for you parking a car on a lawn and then also more hopeful observations too and how human nature makes you feel different from day to day.
‘Gig Life’, understandably, finds the band tackling the subject that they know best and features highly emotional and fragile vocals, while also referencing Rival Schools and mewithoutYou, two bands that are clear influences. Sounding like a more frantic and mathy Broken Social Scene, the band ease from a meditational opening through to more emo and experimental leanings in the glorious 7-minute closer, ‘Getting Sodas’. Sounding more angry and desperate than before, the shouted vocals indicate a change in tact as an electric guitar drives the song forward and into a dazzling last three and a half minutes which includes the closing lines: ‘The world is a beautiful place but we have to make it that way. Whenever you find home we’ll make it more than just a shelter. And if everyone belongs there it will hold us all together. If you’re afraid to die, then so am I’ – perfect for audience singalongs. We strongly urge you to listen to this album, whenever you have the time…