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Album Review: TWIABP&IANLATD - Harmlessness

By Megan Fair, Features Editor

[Epitaph; 2015]

Rating: 4.5/5

Key Tracks: “January 10th, 2014,” “Rage Against the Dying of the Light,” “Ra Patera Dance”

Although TWIABP is a band mocked for its excess in name and band members, Harmlessness begins simply and quietly with just guitarist Derrick Dvorak-Shanholtzer’s vocals and the soft noodling of a guitar in “You Can’t Live There Forever.” The tone is set for what becomes a dynamic, intimate journey full of moments of quiet desperation as well as awe-inspiring glimmers of hope.

After the tension building blur of noise and feedback on “Blank #11,” “January 10th, 2014” paints a moving narrative based off an episode of This American Life, that tells the tale of a vigilante woman who murdered several bus drivers in a protest against the femicide occurring in Mexico. The swelling string arrangement midway through the song gives way to a behemoth outro that brightly proclaims, “Make evil afraid of evil’s shadow,” an empowering call to arms.

TWIABP’s gift for evoking emotion by playing with soft and big moments shines in “Rage Against the Dying of the Light” and “Ra Patera Dance.” In the first track, Bello asks, “Haven’t you ever been sad and discounted / frail and fully compromised?” between moments of stillness and huge bursts of sound, all of which builds into a chill-inducing outro playing on similar dynamic patterns that lead the listener into the hopeful guitars of “Ra Patera Dance.” In a moment of subtle, underlying instrumentals, Bello laments, “I kept myself in the dark,” a moment of gentle sadness that bleeds into an uplifting section of hope and desire.

Other stand outs include upbeat, indie-pop laced “Wendover” and “The Word Lisa,” as well as the dark, stripped-down track “Mental Health.”

I’ve half-joked before that watching TWIABP perform live is the closest I’ve ever felt to God, its music making every particle of my body buzz with the gratitude of being alive, and Harmlessness is an amazing testament to its ability to evoke this existential hope and bliss. Harmlessness is a deity for those seeking light in the darkness, and I worship at its altar.

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