Review of “Harmlessness”, new album by The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Harmlessness


Reviewed By: Nicci Tait

Rating: 9/10

This is the hardest review I’ve ever written, just because listening to this album is such a personal

experience. It felt like I was meeting with an old friend for the first time in years and she’s absolutely

stunning, but all I can do is pick her apart. Do yourself a favor: listen to the album with as little context

as possible. Sit down with it, take it out to coffee, go bowling…whatever it takes for you to get to know



The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (TWIABP) constructed this album

immaculately, and one will find it difficult to find a track that doesn’t speak to them somehow. This is

the band’s greatest work to date. Harmlessness is a trailblazer through all the rotten feelings that seem

to come with life and justifies these emotions as normal and even capable of being overcome. This is an

album the world has been needing for a very long time.


TWIABP’s earlier works sounded more like something you’d hear in the neighbor kid’s garage: full of

passion and drive, but not totally mature yet. Their first LP, Whenever, If Ever is an album encapsulated

by a will to live and desperate hopes for life to work out. It takes all your fears of being normal and

fitting in and says, “Who gives a shit what the world thinks? Take your life in whatever direction you

need it to go.” However, the 9 piece band has grown up to a fully realized studio sound in Harmlessness.

If Whenever is the band of angsty teens in a garage band your mom complained about, Harmlessness is

those same kids, grown up and much more successful than you. (And your mom keeps all their albums

under the bed).


TWIABP pushes the limits of their compositional ability and they have birthed such an innovative sound

utilizing introspective lyrics with conversations flowing between the vocals and instrumentals. The first

track, “You Can’t Live there Forever” talks about the harmlessness of our thoughts, “formless in our

minds.” The song begins quietly and then swells into an orchestral sound reminiscent of Noah and the

Whale’s First Days of Spring. It’s an incredible opening track that is both extremely satisfying to listen to,

but it also leaves you wanting more of whatever that was. The track addresses a fear of death, but the

line “We think that the world is alright and that’s a lie” brings a second theme to the table. If our

thoughts are as harmless as, “All is right in the world and nothing must be changed,” then nothing will

ever change and problems will be ignored. “We are harmless in our minds,” talks about how we may

feel as though the problems in the world are nothing we can do anything about. TWIABP loves this

theme, and it’s prevalent in previous works as well. It carries through the rest of the album as TWIABP

entices its listeners to allow their thoughts to become actions.


The lead single “January 10,” however is the truly definitive track of Harmlessness. The song is about

Diana, Hunter of Bus Drivers; a woman from Juarez who began killing bus drivers in retaliation to the

large number of murders, sexual assaults, and disappearances of women riding busses there. She is

named for Diana the Hunter, Roman goddess of women and childbirth, who is known in mythology for

acting out of rage and revenge. “How great that someone’s doing what we should’ve done,” is a direct

quote from a woman interviewed about Diana the Hunter on This American Life, where many lines in

the song are derived from. Diana is “multiple women” and she speaks for their thoughts through her

actions. The song itself, like many other tracks on the album, is extremely diverse in its sound. However,

“January 10,” is more of a conversation between instruments and vocals. With heavy drums and a wide

variation of guitar parts, the song flawlessly flows from rage and revenge to peace and self-reflection.

If there’s one thing I’ve always been impressed with about TWIABP, it’s their transitions between songs.

The transitions of Harmlessness are seamless, though it feels like it could be listened to in any order.

Each song flows easily into the next, tying themes together and coming full circle. Listening to the whole

thing in one sitting was a life changing experience and it demonstrated just how well thought out and

diverse in sound it really is. For example, if you aren’t paying attention when “Mental Health” changes

to “Wendover” with just one prolonged note, a drum hit and a key change, you wouldn’t even know the

tracks changed. Then, while “Wendover” is playing, it changes gears completely, picking up into this fast

paced, anxious instrumental before slowing down again, catching its breath to become “We Need More

Skulls,” (with guitar effects similar to Manchester Orchestra’s Simple Math).


Harmlessness begins and ends with its best. While Whenever, If Ever closed with the 7 minute long,

“Getting Sodas,” Harmlessness drops mic and exits stage left with “I Can Be Afraid of Anything” and

“Mount Hum.” Singer for TWIABP told Stereogum that “I Can Be Afraid of Anything,” is about dealing

with depression/anxiety and picking yourself up again once you’ve sought help. The song is separated

into two parts: the first being pretty depressing, but with the words, “I really did dig my own hole/ but

I’m climbing out,” the track changes tones to become the most hopeful song of the entire album.

“Mount Hum,” is lavishly decorated with all the best parts of the album over the course of its 8 minutes.

Under layered vocals, the song’s final words are “We’re all gonna die,” which might sound awfully

depressing, but the rest of the song is about how temporary existence is anyway. I think it drives home

the theme of living and enjoying your life while you can, bringing us a full 360 degrees back to the first

track, “You Can’t Live there Forever.”


Each track on Harmlessness is a new story, a different perspective, still adhering to the idea of living life

to its fullest, but taking on more ideas of action and retaliation as well as forgiveness and letting go of

fear. I would be very surprised if someone listened to the album and couldn’t find something on it they

personally identified with. Though the album may fit the trope of “emo” as a lot of people had expected,

this is unlike anything the band has put out before. The album threads its stories together through a

common ideas of self-realization, forgiveness and a will to overcome adversity. It goes without saying

that I’d recommend the hell out of Harmlessness. This is an album to listen to before you die.


FCC: Clean

Favorites: 3, 1, 12, 11, 8, 13, 4, 5, 9

RIYL: Snowing, Foxing, Deer Leap, Sorority Noise, Old Gray, Dads, and American Football.

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