Long Live Happy Birthday by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I'm No Longer Afraid To Die
by Kelli Galayda
In March of 2016, Connecticut-based band The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die released a new EP, titled Long Live Happy Birthday, that marked the beginning of their musical transformation from basement punk to mature emo-indie. More recently, on June 1st, the EP was released on Spotify.
The EP features only two songs, “Even More Forever” and “Katamari Duquette”, clocking in at a combined time of roughly eight minutes; a surprising turnout for a band that often crafts single tunes of the same length. Though song duration is only one small marker in a long list of changes TWIABP has introduced on this new record.
Long Live Happy Birthday begins with familiar notes in “Even More Forever," as slow guitar strumming gently leads into a lyrical spill of emotion from lead vocalist David Bello. Freshly added violins creep their way into the ensemble, intertwining with eerie synths to create a grown up version of the melancholic melodies this band is known for. Further hints of maturity come as the song intensifies, with violent violins and well-rounded vocals replacing the usual guttural wails and heavy guitar riffs TWIABP utilized on previous records, such as Whenever, If Ever and Heartbeat in the Brain. Long gone are the days of screamo breakdowns mid-song, the ones that got teens on their feet in the basement mosh pit–now, this band is reaching for the attention of older listeners, the ones who will toast their beers to the strong emotions they can relate to.
“Katamari Duquette” showcases even more maturity, peeling back layers of passion and feeling with each change in tempo. Bello’s vocals are reminiscent of an early 2000’s Silversun Pickups, but the music as a whole is unique in its fashion. Frustrated chords lay the basis for this intense tune, carrying it with an irritation that’s bound to seep into the listener, forcing the feelings of the song into their brain. String instruments fall in, filling out the forte and finishing off the completed atmosphere of desolated rage. There are few ways to encapsulate the true emotion this song invokes; listening is the only way to understand.
Lyrically, Long Live Happy Birthday certainly took a turn for the negative. Despite the emo undertones, hope was always found in the songs of TWIABP, set in place to remind listeners that even with sorrow, the sun will rise again. However, this time around, the air among the record is too filled with clouds to show any light. Bello says it himself in “Even More Forever”, when he sings, “We haven’t seen the sunrise in twenty seven years”.
The poetry of the lyrics makes this EP almost painful to listen to, in the sense that it unravels deep-seated sentiment through penetrating harmonies combined with powerful instrumentals that, simply put, make feeling unavoidable. Said poetry also perfectly captures the essence of this EP, specifically in the lines that end the record, with the repetition of “Away with god, away with love / Our hands are tied and stepped on." Long Live Happy Birthday is beautifully melancholic, romantically sad, forcibly nostalgic, and a promising portrait of what to expect from TWIABP in the future.
— Kelli Galayda is a recent graduate of Monmouth University, where she studied Communications and served as the Editor in Chief of The Verge, an online student-run magazine. Currently, she works as a freelance photographer, writer, and artist. You can follow her on Instagram @kkagey, or find her writing at kgalayda.wordpress.com.