“Before I die, take me to the place where we wrote our names wrong, but they shared a space. Branches and leaves gathered between where you are right now and where I wanna be. Between earth and sky, we’ll build a fire so high they’ll turn all the lights out and all will sing: ‘I am alive, I deserve to be.’
~Rage Against The Dying of the Light, Harmlessness
The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

I’ve been listening to Harmlessness daily for about a week now, and I can’t believe how much I messed up not getting around to sooner.

I didn’t listen to “Harmlessness” in full before making my AOTY list, and therefore excluded one of the most moving rock records of the year, right up there with Turnover. I’ve been familiar with The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die for awhile, and caught them on their headlining tour with The Hotelier last year, and while I was impressed by their showing I found their sound a little too disorganized for my taste, too much space and dissonance, not enough hooks, not enough cohesion.

“Harmlessness,” though, is nothing but cohesive, as well as continuous and flowing and sad and poignant and beautiful.

There’s something so polished about this record, though it still clings to the free-flowing thoughts that made TWIABP such a strange, enigmatic act from their debut. I love how it delves into the most insecure of thoughts, how it embraces so many sounds and strings, how it is difficult to tell where one song ends and one begins, flowing into an hour of broadened sound.

The startlingly quiet and warm intro track drew me in immediately, and the mysterious narrative of “January 10th, 2014” kept me engaged, as much as the rhythmic, cyclical melodies did. So much of this is poetry, the divulge-it-all and capture-the-moment kind. Later on, the last 55 seconds of “Haircuts for Everybody” sounds like what it feels like to cry, and when I heard that, that was when I knew I’d be playing this record over and over again, that I would not, could not, forget about it.

With so many bands, the sophomore album is a bit of a failure because it tries to recapture the lightening in a bottle that happened the first time. I wonder if the musicians of TWIABP ever had that moment of anxiety about that, or if they were confident the bolt struck them at the right time.

Change your life. Please, change your life.   Change my life. Please, change my life. 
We spent the last twenty-three minutes hallucinating over the phone.  I kept both my hands still while we saw the same building explode. Wreck this thing. Please, take it off the ground.”
~Haircuts for Everybody, Harmlessness
 The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die