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World/Inferno Friendship Society - The Anarchy and the Ecstasy (Cover Artwork)

World/Inferno Friendship Society

World/Inferno Friendship Society: The Anarchy and the EcstasyThe Anarchy and the Ecstasy (2011)
Chunksaah Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The unthinkable has happened: The World/Inferno Friendship Society is maturing. Although the punk/cabaret act has a long history of rampaging through life and living for the day, it seems that on The Anarchy and the Ecstasy, they are realizing that actions have consequences. With the album's very.
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The unthinkable has happened: The World/Inferno Friendship Society is maturing. Although the punk/cabaret act has a long history of rampaging through life and living for the day, it seems that on The Anarchy and the Ecstasy, they are realizing that actions have consequences.

With the album's very first line, lead singer Jack Terricloth announces, "I am sick of people being sick of my shit!" Between its pounding piano, snarled vocals and booming chorus, the song is not only classic Inferno, but it might very well be the best song they've ever cut. It's a fitting retrospective on the band's varied career in that it acknowledges the band's rapscallion ways and frustration with those who couldn't hang. This dedication to music and not financial gain comes in the form of a forceful rebuke: "Your cut is nothing because I gave it away!"* The song's resonance becomes doubly potent once it comes to light that it was written by Terricloth and Scott Hollingsworth, who passed away young, but was only recorded after a tumultuous time in which the band saw several long-running members jump ship.

However, the departure of several key members didn't shatter the band. Instead, the group seems to have reformed as a slightly more compact unit, which has influenced their songwriting as much as their performance. Most notably, The Anarchy and the Ecstasy has a new precision in the way the band delivers. While previous LPs like Red-Eyed Soul and Addicted to Bad Ideas were packed full of booming instruments that exploded in a deluge of mixed sound, this record features the group focusing more on each individual instrument, relying more on focus than volume.

This increased attention to each element has also lead Inferno to create something of a quieter album. Although their raucous odes to revelry bookend the album, the centerpieces are as much ballads as they are soliloquies. As the group gently makes use of the Raritan River as a metaphor for drifting from home and muses on what causes people to drink themselves into a stupor, one can't help but assume they are directly referring to their own experiences. This newfound self-consideration is something of a new approach for the group. While World/Inferno frequently described their wacky adventures in their albums, these tales of running from the police and narrowly avoiding getting run over by boats almost made it harder to truly understand the individual members, as these wild tales caused the listener to focus on the flashy handkerchief thrown in front of his eyes instead of the magician himself. But here, the band doesn't seem to want to distract us with their wild ways, and instead allows for an unforgivingly intimate self-portrait, which at times can hit a little too close to home.

Although the group may be a little more solemn on this record than in the past, their writing has grown in incisiveness and whimsy. "Canonize Philip K. Dick, OK" might be the most clever description-of-one-thing-to-describe-something-else in modern music. In painting a portrait of the incessant paranoia of Philip K. Dick in the foreground, Terricloth allows the background to form itself into the dreaded concept of allowing one's surroundings to strip away their ideals and identity. What isn't quite as apparent is whether the group is referring to the effect of osmosis on the members from years spent in the band, or if they are referring to how the outside world seems to bleed the group of its members. Heavy!

While the group has suffered a decrease in roster, both old and new players have stepped up to the plate. Sandra Malak steals the show on a few tracks where her operatic singing is given center spotlight. Both soulful and polished, Malak is able to provide a taste of restrained refinement which sits in perfect companion to the surrounding decadence. Likewise, new ivory tickler Raja Azar hits the keys with a heavier hand than we've heard in the past, giving the songs an underlying, forceful current.

With multiple tunes that are clearly autobiographical on the new disc, the group seems to be acknowledging that the life of a bandit has its price. As is seen from the LP's mixture of anger, melancholy and wild abandon, the band has learned that actions have repercussions. But that doesn't mean they'll worry about the consequences. It just means that they won't be as surprised at the casualties next time around.

* - Fun fact: The second interview I ever did was with World/Inferno in Philadelphia in 2007 when they opened for Leftover Crack. After the show, before the interview began, a heavily intoxicated World/Inferno fan came up to Terricloth. The fan was literally blubbering that he didn't have enough bus fare to get back to Washington, D.C. Despite the fact the group clearly hadn't made that much from the show, Terricloth slipped a twenty in the fan's pocket and good-naturedly sent him on his way.

 

 
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The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!World/Inferno Friendship Society - Addicted to Bad IdeasWorld/Inferno Friendship Society - Red-Eyed SoulThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseBomb the Music Industry! - VacationDillinger Four - C I V I L W A RAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityOperation Ivy - Operation IvyOff with Their Heads - In Desolation

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
baseball (March 22, 2011)

Not really what I was expecting, but like everything this band has put out, really really good.

johngentile (March 17, 2011)

Hey Wyzo,

Thanks for your interest. I think maybe you need to work on your reading comprehension, though.

The review doesn't attack World/Inferno for making money, it comments on how past members have left the group for a more steady income, in part to the band's dedication to the music in lieu of income. The $20 story is just an example of this aspect. Nowhere does it suggest that the band only made $20. Certainly a band like W/IFS doesn't earn as much money as the average 9 to 5.

So, before you go slinging insults next time about "childish sentimentality", you might want to re-read just to make sure you got it right.

If you'd like to discuss further, do let me know.

DarrenMcLeod (March 17, 2011)

After a couple of listens, it hasn't hit me as instantly as Red Eyed Soul did, but I imagine it'll be a grower.

wyzo (March 17, 2011)

Can't wait to hear this. Great band, one of the few bands I find relevant even though I'm an 'adult' and could give a shit about clubs and shows and well, bands.

A comment though not so much to World/Inferno since I think they deserve their success and are solid people, but to the bizarre childish sentimentalism of punknews reviews this week regarding bands and music (see screeching weasel review), as manifested in this review in the numerous exclamations of just how modest and poor World/Inferno is.

If you interviewed them in 2007, and you think they didn't even make $20 at that show, try booking them sometime. They made more than $20. Doesn't hurt my opinion of them, but I feel your opinion of them is mainly built on some serious kid wanting heroes issues built on a fantasy, not reality.

They aren't idiots, and frankly, they are worth what they ask for.

They aren't printing money anymore than any bands these days, but bands, touring bands with some history and following, make some money. No, it isn't sustainable, it isn't predictable or consistent, it doesn't necessarily mean the cost is less than what they earn, but it's a great gig if you can get it. They earned it. The money. That does exist. That is paid them. For shows. More than $20. More than $100. Not fabulous but not horrible.

Do you know what 'artists' make doing poster prints these days? I can't throw a rock without hitting someone doing t-shirt screenprinting or web design for more money than the people they often are claiming to associate with make. Young professionals meet 'artist' = omifuckingod.

At least this band justifies whatever money they do (or do not) make with great music. Which is more than I can say for whatever this D.R.U.G.S. band is doing or whatever the kids are listening to. But don't review a record like your reviewing your own child's music recital. No one wants to hear that.

laserguidedbygod (March 16, 2011)

So far I don't think it holds a candle to Red-Eyed Soul or Addicted to Bad Ideas, but I have a feeling it's going to grow on me a lot.

Rastid (March 16, 2011)

The only thing that bugs me is 'Lean Time For Heroes'. That song was SO much better on the demo! The removal of that playful guitar (understandable since Lucky is gone) and some of the horn parts as well as slowing of the tempo ruins it on the record version if you ask me.

i agree that the album version is the worst of the three versions, but i think it's still a great recording in its own right.

Problematiclogic (March 16, 2011)

The only thing that bugs me is 'Lean Time For Heroes'. That song was SO much better on the demo! The removal of that playful guitar (understandable since Lucky is gone) and some of the horn parts as well as slowing of the tempo ruins it on the record version if you ask me.

ahoitherr (March 16, 2011)

Thank God I'm not the only one who thought "The Apple Was Eve" was one of (if not the) best on the album. I showed this to many of my friends and they all hated it citing "Bat flying across the moon is the stupidest lyric ever" but the song as a whole struck me as one of their best.

The album reminds me of the change of high school anarchist to college anarchist where my mindset went from "Fuck yeah! Let's all band together and smash the state!" to "Well, the most I can do in this lifetime is work for peace and do my best on a small scale to help affect a larger change. True anarchism might not be real, attainable goal but if I stop believing and fighting the flame dies that much faster." It's a cry of things are changing and never stop fighting but an acknowledgment that things are getting hard...really hard. It's that mindset that really made me connect with this album and rekindled (or rather, reminded me of) my love for this band and how hard they fight to stay afloat while not compromising their beliefs.

Or at least that's how I see it.

TheMike (March 15, 2011)

Simply their best album.

kidpomona (March 15, 2011)

Album is great! If you didn't like it the first time, definitely give it another spin. It will grow on you in no time :)

regreteverything (March 15, 2011)

I love W/IFS but man... This is just so mediocre it hurts me. Really disappointing.

Rastid (March 15, 2011)

love this album. 13 years and canonize are just phenomenal. the rerecordings are great songs in their own right, but i'm not sure they're improvements over the previous two versions.

jimmynorville (March 15, 2011)

"I'm Sick of People Being Sick of My Shit" and "The Apple is Eve" are the best tracks at least after only a few listens.

jamespastepunk (March 15, 2011)

Great record. Drastically different from their discography, but then again, when hasn't it been?

ashtraymonument (March 15, 2011)

took me a bit to get into it, but its great!

Problematiclogic (March 15, 2011)

Phenomenal. Best tracks are 'The Disarming Smile' and 'The Apple Was Eve'.

the_other_scott (March 15, 2011)

i used to see this dude walking around my neighborhood all the time and he always looked so fucking depressed. i like this band.

drHankMcCoy (March 15, 2011)

I bought this after hearing the first 2 jawns. Solid. Can't wait for the show this month. I'll wear a suit.

mattramone (March 15, 2011)

This is maybe my favorite release of theirs.

mikexdude (March 15, 2011)

I love this band, but this is the first album of theirs that I'm having trouble getting into.

misterspike (March 15, 2011)

I struggled to write a review for this album, but you Nailed it.

This is a fantastic album. First I heard it, I wasn't sure what I thought. Next thing I knew, I had listened to it ten times over and over. It has a way
of grabbing you and not letting go. "Jake & Eggers" and "They Talk of Nora's Badness" are particular faves. But honestly, there isn't a dud on this album.

Great "fun fact" at the end. I totally believe it.

Rich27 (March 15, 2011)

Great band, live and on record, and this review really whets my appetite for this album.

keithybobeefy (March 15, 2011)

This is a band I think I should really like. I got Red-Eyed Soul and I liked it, but it didn't stay in my stereo for long.

I probably should have seen them live since that seems to be when they're at their best.

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