The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die is a band that seems set on proving truth in their own lengthy moniker—or at least doing their part in that increasingly lofty pursuit. In 2017, the band finds itself in a world where that challenge is a much steeper one than when they formed in 2009, or released their debut full-length, Whenever, If Ever, in 2013. It was the closing track of that album, ‘Getting Sodas’, that really established this challenge with its final lyrics:

“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”

This challenge has continued as a theme across TWIABP’s career, with it being referenced again in the opening track of their 2015 album, Harmlessness, and as a general philosophy behind their lyrics. This continues on their latest full-length effort, Always Foreign. This time, however, their scope has widened, and it seems like they are finally ready to fight back against the fear of death and prove the final statement of their own band name to be true—hard as that struggle may be.

TWIABP has already firmly established its importance within emo’s fourth-wave revival. Whenever, If Ever was a promising sign of what the band was capable of that, in moments, delivered on that potential. While it was not a perfect album by any means, it was more than enough to signal to those paying attention to the early days of the emo revival that TWIABP was a band worth paying attention to.

It was with Harmlessness that TWIABP not only solidified its place within the emo movement, but along with bands like The Hotelier and Modern Baseball also helped solidify the genre’s legitimacy and staying power in the minds of the initially skeptical and dismissive. This status places TWIABP in a differently elevated position going into Always Foreign than they have been prior to their previous releases—one that can be at once freeing or a crippling challenge for a young band.

Do you go back to the well of what brought you such success on your previous album or do you move away from it into untested waters?

Always Foreign is definitively not an attempt by TWIABP to recreate Harmlessness, and that’s what allows it to be so undeniably wonderful throughout. Sonically, it is lighter, faster, and happier sounding, without sacrificing depth in its lyricism, nor abandoning instrumental complexity. It manages to be somehow calming, even in the moments it is least calm.

Musically, perhaps TWIABP’s most impressive feat on Always Foreign is the careful balance they achieve between calling back their previous accomplishments and forging ahead with something new. They create the huge sweeping builds and crescendos of their previous albums, but do not rely on them. When these massive moments fade away they unveil equally intimate and touching moments in a way the band has not before achieved.

This ebb and flow to Always Foreign is foundational to an album that remains unrelentingly interesting for its entire runtime. No song feels remotely skippable because each reveals something different than the last. Even more, not only does each song undeniably work within context of the album as a whole, but at various times in my time spent with Always Foreign, I found myself turning each individual song on repeat.

With each listen I continued to find something new and magical to grab onto or at least felt constantly refreshed energy. This is especially true of the first single from the album, ‘Dillon and Her Son’, which is a two-and-a-half-minute absolute slapper of a pop-punk rallying cry, consisting of fast-moving bass, shredding keys, and catchy as hell vocals before immediately crashing into a crescendo. It’s over as fast as it began and it leaves you immediately wanting to hear it again.

Always Foreign is an album pulling in two directions, not only sonically but thematically as well, and confronts this contradiction from beginning to end. Not only do the songs move between sweepingly cinematic and more straightforward and instantly accessible, but lyrically it also shifts in scope and focus on a whim.

The album is at once filled with pointed skepticism over the state of the world today while maintaining celebratory hopefulness. This confrontation between misanthropic skepticism and altruistic longing is a consistent theme in TWIABP's music (and across 4th wave emo in general), and is the natural result of the challenge set forth by the band back in those closing moments of their debut album.

Where this dichotomy of TWIABP’s contrasting worldviews is most pointed and powerful on Always Foreign is the band’s head-on tackling of the large social issues shaping our current world—a fact reflected even with the album’s title. It is taken from the lyrics to the album’s ninth track, ‘Marine Tigers’, which itself pulls its title from the S.S. Marine Tiger, a class of cargo ship that transported many immigrants to America. The song also shares this title with the recently published memoir by vocalist David Bello’s father, Jose Bello, about his experience facing racism and violent discrimination as a Puerto Rican immigrant in 1940s New York City; Marine Tigers: A NewyoRican Story.

On ‘Marine Tigers’, Bello’s vocals confront the xenophobic realities in 2017 America, while recalling his familial legacy of facing such atrocities. This juxtaposition binds the universal themes TWIABP tackles on Always Foreign with the deeply emotional and personal struggles that have appeared throughout their work thus far.

In the end, this absolute cohesion between differing musical and thematic forces makes Always Foreign not only another landmark in the emo revival timeline, but an absolute and undeniable triumph of an album in the world of 2017. With this album, The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die has stepped up to the challenge of their name (as well as their previous lyrics riffing off the name), and show that they are willing to fight to make it a reality. While this battle may be a substantially uphill one, Always Foreign stands as an impeccable call to arms.