Release Date: September 29, 2017
With a career spanning eight years, the band has never made identical sounding records. Consequently, this could be attributed to the fact that they’ve never even had the same band twice. With a line-up that shifts every other year or so, new influences are bound to be introduced, and the third album, Always Foreign, which was released on September 29, is no exception.
From the very beginning of the album, I was given the same vibe as the new American Football record that just came out. I’ll Make Everything started off slightly twangy, and unfolded, revealing a new instrument each stanza, which seems to be a pattern with songwriting these days. The song doesn’t really end up going anywhere, but it does serve as an introduction to the rest of the album.
Following this track is The Future, which has arguably been one of the most popular tracks on the album, but didn’t actually end up being released as a single. The song was released with the album only a week ago. However, as soon as I hear the cringy, “Execute the queen,” I get an awkward Lostprophets sort of vibe and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I didn’t like the song the first time that I heard it, but it’s sort of grown on me to the point where it’s bearable. I just thought it was a little too pop punk for my taste. However, what really grabbed my attention was the chorus. It was so surprising, yet so necessary. Essentially, it was sort of a weak song at first, but then it gets considerably better after the unexpected chorus.
As the third song, Hilltopper began, I started to get an eerily familiar Tigers Jaw feel from my angsty freshman year. No matter how cliché it is though, the riff grabs you and I can imagine it being an amazing song heard live. I have reason to believe that this song is actually in the perfect place on the album though because it has this raw sort of energy that really sets the tone for the rest of the LP. It’s another popular song that wasn’t released as a single but made a huge impact after the drop of the LP.
By this time, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the next track, but a soft timber woke me from my daze that can only be described as sounding like that one song by the Temper Trap. You know the one. By this time, I picked up that pretty much all the songs on the album were built around a similar formula. They all encompassed slow build-ups, with personal lyrics followed by a super unexpected chorus. It’s not a bad recipe; in fact, I think it worked rather well for them. Yet, it’s still clear that every song was written the exact same way
Gram follows and was one of the original singles that ended up being released prior to the album. I would never skip a song, but damn, this one was really asking for it. It pretty much sounded like the band took the melody from 21 Guns by Green Day and added the drums from the song, Africa, by Toto.
Surprisingly enough, Gram is actually the precursor to the best song on the album in my opinion, which was Dillon and Her Son, the namesake being attributed to whom can only be assumed as Dillon, the band’s manager at Field Day Recordings. I actually don’t think anyone saw this song coming, and funny enough, it’s the least like anything that the band has ever done in the past. Each time I hear it, another layer reveals itself to me, and the weakest part is actually the chorus. It’s literally like Josh Cyr had some really solid lyrics written out already, and then connected it to another solid riff, but was too lazy to actually write a chorus that would grab you and pull you over the hump. It’s a chorus, sure, but you really have to question it, because it’s not particularly strong. I would say the beginning is better than the end, and it might be the sort of song you skip halfway through listening. I still ended up giving it a thumbs-up in my notebook though, because I have to give credit where credit is due. The song is catchy, and certainly, breaks much-needed barriers from the typical style that the band encompasses on the rest of their albums.
As is the custom with most albums by The World Is a Beautiful Place, there is an interlude track entitled, “Blank #_.” This one was number 12. Why it’s on the album, I don’t know, but I never felt like these tracks were ever really necessary on their previous records, to begin with. About a minute passes, which flows beautifully into the worst song on the album. The lyrics are frankly whiny and annoying, which give off the impression to me that Josh’s stepdad never wanted to throw the baseball with him in the backyard.
Marine Tigers gets better though, and it’s the second of three singles that were released. It’s certainly more like what we’ve heard from the band in the past, but by no means the best track on the album. It’s a longer song that adds necessary depth to the already quick ending of the LP, and also leaves a rebellious, much needed political footprint on the record before ending, which occurs two songs later. This lick is, by far, the most political, and I believe also pretty influential. Celebrating immigration and the diversity of the American people, this one is essentially just aiming to stick a middle finger to our Commander-in-Chief.
Followed by Fuzz Minor, another forgettable song, I couldn’t help but begin to jot down my final thoughts. The final song was the deciding factor. It would either provide an exemplary finale or an abrupt conclusion, much like a supper where the dirty dishes are left on the table. Decently long, the ending track, Infinite Steve, exceeded my expectations and earned the album a solid 5 out of 7 stars.
Ultimately, this record was exactly what I would have expected from the group at this time in their careers. They’re messing around, experimenting, trying new techniques; and it’s working out fairly well. Yet, they still manage to stay true to the roots that they’ve nurtured since their humble beginnings eight years ago.
However, there were other things that I had to consider as well. What the hell is up with that album art? Are they trying to mimic Tame Impala? The cover looks like an amateur photo that I could have taken and edited on my Samsung phone camera. In fact, I have a similar photo that I DID take and edit on my phone. You can see the resemblance at the bottom of the page.
Overall, the production was incredibly well crafted, and the ending leaves the listener with the question, “Is it really still a country if all the states are broken?” Five of six members of the band took turns singing lead on this album; the only one who didn’t was guitarist, Chris Teti, and he produced it. Yet the sudden ending to the record implies that there really is no conclusion, and granted all the complicated emotions on this album perhaps that’s the point after all. I sit in anticipation awaiting more material, and more growth.