Illusory Walls is TWIABP’s strong but inconsistent comeback

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die

Illusory Walls

Epitaph · October 8, 2021

Post-rock and midwest emo band The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die (TWIABP) come in with a decently strong return on Illusory Walls. While certainly not as consistent as their 2015 album Harmlessness, there are definitely some solid tracks and well thought-out moments on this album that make it worth a listen. 

The record is their longest yet at 70 minutes, and is wholly bisected by the 35-minute mark. The first half of the record features more indie-rock and emo-inspired songwriting, while the second is comprised of two longer tracks that lean more heavily into TWIABP’s post-rock influences. The songwriting on the first half of the record is mostly familiar to those who have been following the band, kicking off with “Afraid to Die,” a song that starts off with a serene guitar riff that plays well with the simple and minimalistic synth-line. These both eventually fade out and are replaced with an abrupt wall of sound that gains momentum and builds upon itself throughout the rest of the track. It’s a great way to start the record and is pretty indicative of how the album as a whole sounds. 

Another highlight comes not long afterward with “Invading the World of the Guilty as a Spirit of Vengeance,” which features a more aggressive, almost nu-metal inspired guitar line. The song shifts to a more drum-driven section, which builds tension throughout the back half and develops into an amazing finale. “Died in the Prison of the Holy Office” is another track that builds momentum extremely well, beginning with vocals that are subdued within the mix and constantly adding different elements of the melody together until the song reaches a crescendo and subsequently starts to incorporate some elements of math rock. 

The subsequent song, though, “Your Brain is a Rubbermaid,” really feels like more of an afterthought to “Died in the Prison of the Holy Office,” and a somewhat unnecessary one at that. It doesn’t ruin “Died in the Prison of the Holy Office,” but certainly doesn’t add to the overall flow of the album. “We Saw Birds Through The Hole in the Ceiling” is another song that feels underdeveloped and underutilized within the context of the album, although the mix is much more well-executed and detailed on this track.

Appearing toward the end of the first half of the record, “Blank // Worker” is also worth a mention. The song features some reverb-heavy strummed chords along with what are probably the most politically charged and radical lyrics on the entire album. Truly, the lyrics on this track sound like they were written from a very strong core set of values that the band collectively believes in. 

The second half of the record is only two songs, both running over 15 minutes in length.  “Infinite Josh,” the first and the better of the two, is a post-rock slow burner with lyrics that truly feel like they’re coming from the heart. The refrain in the first leg of the track is actually somewhat catchy, as a background chorus repeats “but everyone says you can’t go home again, can’t go home again.” The track builds upon itself and metamorphoses into something that sounds both ethereal and nostalgic. After reaching a crescendo of these feelings, the song shifts into a more simplistic, although still appreciable, second segment. Although it isn’t as exciting as the expertly crafted culmination of sound in the first half, it’s still passable. 

“Fewer Afraid” starts out strong with a lengthy monologue that plays off of some quiet instrumentation very well – reminiscent of some sections of certain Godspeed You! Black Emperor tracks. More instruments are incorporated as the vocals begin, including an emotional piano line and what seem to be wind chimes in the background of the track. Like “Infinite Josh,” the track builds up to a climax, this time featuring a stinging guitar riff that eventually dissipates. The latter half of the track isn’t nearly as impressive as the first; the instrumentation is pretty basic and almost seems to drag at some points. The lyrics, however, are still very well thought out and grab the listener’s attention, even becoming pretty meta at some points. While it is a flawed track, it is very obvious that a lot of work was put into making it, and is a decent closer for the album.

Not every track on Illusory Walls is perfect, but there are some spectacular moments on it that make it worth a listen. The level of detail and emotion emanating from tracks like “Invading the World of the Guilty as a Spirit of Vengeance,” “Died in the Prison of the Holy Office,” and “Infinite Josh” make it evident how much work was put into this album. At times Illusory Walls lacks focus, but more often than not, TWIABP is demonstrating their songwriting talent and instrumental techniques beautifully.

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