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Sunday, 8 September 2013

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Whenever, If Ever

I've been waiting to do this post for a good while now. Getting a pre-order shipped from America to the UK that gets delayed due to pressing plant issues can leave you with quite a wait for a record (shout-out to The Speed Of Sound In Seawater's debut album, currently undergoing the same problems), but it's here now so I can swiftly forget about that.

The slightly out-of-focus man on this cover makes me feel a little like I've got cataracts, but I still like it a lot.

Slightly blurry inner sleeve as well. Mostly included to show you there are about a million people in this band, and one of them is called "Shitty Greg". This is something I am okay with.

Gorgeous record. Really, really nice. I like that the greens of the labels match the greens of the cover, and the record itself isn't a million miles off. As you can (possibly) tell, the inner sleeve has lyrics printed on the other side and that's a big plus for me (especially when they're great). In terms of pressing info, I believe this is the first pressing "clear with green smoke" out of 1000. Yeah, it's not particularly "smoky" but I still think it's lovely. Unfortunately I've seen the other colours from this pressing and, well, let's just say I'll be keeping an eye on ebay. Oh dear.

So let's talk about the album a little bit, because there's quite an interesting story around it. The album, as seems to happen too regularly these days, was leaked around a month before its release date. When this happens with bigger labels it sort of sucks but they can deal with it. When it happens to what is a big release for a small label like Topshelf, well then it's much more of an issue for them. To their credit though, Topshelf responded to this admirably. Rather than watching the album circle the internet for a month helplessly, they brought the digital release forward. It was made available to purchase on Bandcamp with an instant download, streamable on a whole number of places and anyone who had pre-ordered it was sent their download. This is the reason why I listened to the album, and the reason why I pre-ordered direct from Topshelf (also because the pre-order bundle included a lovely t-shirt). It was a proactive response from the label, and they get a lot of credit from me for reacting so well.

Of course, I wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't pretty good. It's more than that. It's amazing. This is my album of the year so far by quite a distance. It sets its stall out early doors, the intro track of blank #9 making way for the driving emotion of Heartbeat In The Brain. It took a long time for me to realise that emo isn't a bad thing (blame it on the metal of my youth), and this is Emo with a capital E. While that is an absolutely Okay Thing, TWIABP add little hints of post-rock and create a different beast. These are super-sized emotions, carried off into space by atmospheric guitars. Yet there is still pace to the album, the post-rock elements never feel forced or overpowering. The stand-out track from the album for most people will probably be closing track Getting Sodas, a huge track that culminates in the repeated lyrics of:

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
And if you're afraid to die then so am I.

Which, let's not lie, is pretty spectacular. My favourite track though, comes 3 tracks earlier in the form of Ultimate Steve. Perhaps a spiritual sequel to an earlier EP track entitled Mega Steve, the track builds carefully and rhythmically then pauses momentarily and absolutely falls apart at the seams. The guitars crash around your head and the vocals come screaming in, I get goosebumps every time I hear it culminating in the collective shout of:

The world will destroy me
Our voices will flood rivers and valleys
The world will destroy me
I am the mountains crumbling.

It will take a lot for this to be topped as my album of the year. Even if you only have the slightest of interests in emo, you should listen to this.

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