In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, in honor of The Grammys, we’re stumping for songs we think should have been nominated for “Song Of The Year.”
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, “I Can Be Afraid Of Anything” (2015)
In this year’s Grammys category for “Song Of The Year” the clear frontrunner—and should be winner—is Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” a track so important that putting anything else alongside it only heightens its profundity. Even if hadn’t become a rallying cry for the “Black Lives Matter” movement, it’s the kind of track that’s so powerful it makes anything seem utterly inconsequential in comparison. But, for the sake of argument, there’s one band that feels as impactful as “Alright,” and that’s The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die.
I’ll be the first to admit that the band’s sophomore album, Harmlessness, didn’t immediately resonate with me. But, really, how could it? It’s a record that’s so maximalist in its intentions—and so blunt in its detailed explorations of mental health—that it took countless listens for it to fully sink in. But, once Harmlessness hit, it carried a weight few modern records have. At a hair over seven minutes long “I Can Be Afraid Of Anything” is about as far from a traditional single as one can get. Yet, it’s the way with which The World Is packs so much into it that proves rock bands are often best when they are willing to throw out the genre’s rulebook.
Though it could reductively be described as a slow build that culminates in a wildly catchy chorus, it’s the journey up the mountain that makes “I Can Be Afraid Of Anything” so evocative. Throughout Harmlessness The World Is plays with styles, often blending disparate rock sub-genres together for maximum effect and “I Can Be Afraid Of Anything” is no exception. Where most bands are content to play it straight, doling out the same standards in new packages, The World Is shows what can happen when a band isn’t afraid to push everything to the limit. It doesn’t make for music that’s easily digestible, but when vocalist David Bello’s harmonies hit at the song’s end it feels completely life-affirming. It’s the type of song that so rarely finds a champion on music’s biggest night, but it’s deserving of one all the same.