Music Reviews
Illusory Walls

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die Illusory Walls

(Epitaph) Rating - 7/10

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die churn their life-affirming grand gestures with beautiful dark hues. And though that's been the Connecticut indie-rock collective's MO for over a decade, the band is resolute in elevating their work to monolithic proportions while paving their own path. Their latest LP, Illusory Walls, is 70-minutes long, and if that's intimating upon first glance, then it shouldn't. Half of that runtime consists of two 15 plus minute post-rock epics that split the difference between Yo La Tengo and Explosions in the Sky, which come across as expanded versions of the longer cuts features on their previous albums Harmlessness and Always Foreign.

But what may come as a bigger surprise is the album's first half, which further amplifies the progressive elements they've hinted at before and with unabashed sincerity. Blistering, finger-tapping histrionics show up aplenty, building steadily into towering crescendos—whether they transition from soft guitar arpeggios (Afraid to Die) or heavy post-hardcore (Invading the World of the Guilty as a Spirit of Vengeance). Other times they're more effective at their simplest, like on Queen Sophie for President, which aims for the heartfelt pop bombast of Broken Social Scene. The performances here are stellar, a testament to a band that transcends any genre divisions—meshing the dramatic ambitions of Coheed and Cambria and the melodic sensibilities of Death Cab for Cutie with equal regard.

If that all sounds like a bit too much, then it sometimes can be—and the needlessly specific song titles do suffer from a lack of nuance. But despite its somewhat perplexing presentation, Illusory Walls reveals thoughtful insights into modern-day societal concerns that range from the struggles of the working class to the failings of big government. TWIABP demands a lot of your attention through these challenging, often dreary meditations, but they do reveal themselves gradually through close observation. On the flip side, there is no shortage of positivity either. It's a tricky equilibrium that the band embraces as they emotionally erupt over a fiery concoction of shredding guitars.