The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die has successfully carved its niche in “emo revival” after six years of demos, splits, EP’s, experimentation and a few style changes.
“Harmlessness,” the band’s second studio album, shows the true progression of what used to be “just another emo band.” Members have gained and lost so many musicians that at this point, the band may seem like a Frankenstein of its former self. But out of the ashes of its most recent line-up change comes an endearing, cohesive project.
“Harmlessness” opens with an acoustic track, which is uncharacteristic of the band. “You Can’t Live There Forever” sets the tone for the album. It goes from a soft-singing David Bello, alone with his guitar, to the usual crescendo of synths, increasingly heavier drum beats and chorus.
Through the middle of the album this theme persists and is showcased perfectly in “January 10th, 2014.”
The song follows the story of Diana, the savior of Juarez, Mexico, who acted out retribution on a bus driving serial killer. This track departs from the usual paradigm of existential and tangible sadness, and the recovery processes of the two. Even so, the album maintains its musical cohesiveness.
The recurring choruses and guitar/synth tunes that have been existent since the band’s first EP, “Formlessness,” can be heard. The chorus mentions the homecoming of an unknown character. This persistent theme incites nostalgia that progresses through not only this album, but the band’s work as a whole and allows for release.
“Harmlessness” closes with not one but two heavy tracks, allowing the band to keep up with an older image. “I Can Be Afraid of Anything” and “Mount Hum” present the same kind of grandiose theatrical ending as did the last track of the band’s first studio release, “Getting Sodas,” and can now be added to my lists of songs to gently weep to.
Overall, “Harmlessness” shows us that The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die is still the emo band we know and love, but now its more theatrical with 100 percent less trumpet and 100 percent more violin.
The band still maintains its charm. It’s as if you’re returning home after your first year of college. Your nostalgic expectations warp what it’s going to be like, and you leave the experience feeling empty in some parts, full in others. Honestly, if you’re looking for a strong melodrama that will give you an emotional wringing, “Harmlessness” will provide.