Listen: “I’ll Make Everything” – TWIABP
Since Whenever, If Ever, TWIABP have slowly been expanding their sound, and the most noticeable shift on Always Foreign is the heavy addition of a full brass-section. The brass is welcome and blends well into the bands’ cathedral-sized production. While the band had had trumpet parts in the past, it’s never been used to expand the sound quite like it is here. The band also leans more on synths than on previous records. The tracks that feature it are more hit (“Infinite Steve”) or miss (“Dillon and Her Son”). The band have also been utilizing more of their vocalists than before, allowing for a more dramatic sounding record. David F. Bello and Katie Dvorak feature most prominently with occasional additions from Tyler Bussey. While songs like “Faker” and “Infinite Steve” reach monstrous new places the band hasn’t touched yet, “The Future” and “Dillon and Her Son” are some of the fastest, pop-punkiest tracks in the band’s discography, more fitting for blink-182 than American Football. It’s a welcome change, but these are the two weakest moments on the album that throw off the rhythm of the record.
Despite the two aforementioned moments, this may be the best TWIABP album yet. Even though there are the twinkles, climaxes, and epic song-structure built from Harmlessness and Whenever. The band really explores more themes than on their past releases. Even though most of this album is personal, like their 2015 track “January 10th, 2014,” the best songs on Always Foreign are political. Take “Marine Tigers,” the song takes its title from Bello’s father’s autobiography about coming to America as an immigrant. Much of the beginning of the song deals with racism that immigrants and refugees face, but the bridge is unifying:
Please remember as a person
It’s the land that’s always foreign
Can you still call it a country
If all the states are broken?
It’s a call to arms for everyone to be more accepting. “Fuzz Minor” is more aggressive towards people that use hate speech with Bello belting “I can’t wait to see you die” over synth heavy, bombastic instrumentals that sound like the perfect marriage of Sigur Ros and Nu-Metal.
Listen: “Fuzz Minor” – TWIABP
Still, being an album by an emo band, the emotional moments are most important, and the band starts to tug at the listeners heart strings from the start. “I’ll Make Everything” is the band’s most honest depiction of manic-depression on any of their releases: “I’ll make everything look like it’s happy/I’ll make everything look like it’s rad,” Bello and Dvorak harmonize over the song’s pivot-point. “For Robin” is probably the saddest moment on the album, as the band sings about the loss of a friend over an acoustic track. It has sad moments that discuss drug addiction but also remembers fond times like “getting drunk on the clock.”
Even though The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die show no signs of slowing down, each album is presented with the conviction as if it could be their last. They’re simultaneously grandiose and bare-bones vulnerable. Always Foreign is the sum of both of those parts, and it’s mostly excellent.
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