Balance and Composure - The Things We Think We're Missing
Record Label: No Sleep
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Progression as a term in music is tricky. It is a means of maturing in songwriting while tightly clutching onto your roots and screaming violently in pre-pubescent/teen angst. It's kind of like moving out of your house for the first time after college and being thrust into the big bad world, left to your own devices to survive and prosper. And it isn't just about survival, the real key is to prove yourself to be above and beyond the others. The slippery slope of progression, transcendence, maturing, or [insert SAT word here], ultimately lies where you define it. It really doesn't matter what other people think of the art you create as long as the end result makes you feel true bliss and coherence.
Balance and Composure have come a long way since their Erection Kid days. The Things We Think We're Missing is the record that will make them explode. Mainstream or not, this is the one band you tell your friends about to listen to. If there is one word to describe their legacy as a band, it would be progression. Every subsequent release since I Just Want to Be Pure has built upon each other in both quality of tracks and overall musicianship of Jon, Bailey, Matt, Andy, and Erik. The record is more than an experience, it is a window into the lives and heart of the band. Each note, lyric, and piece of production was crafted beautifully in Studio 4 and we are the lucky ones who get to witness a band at their peak perform songs the way they were meant to be played.
I honestly couldn't even begin to do this masterpiece justice by simply reviewing it, but for some reason I feel compelled to do so. Maybe it's because I was among the myriad of fans who discovered the leak during this past week and the lyrics are already starting to get lodged in my memory banks as I belt along with Jon Simmons howling yells. Speaking of vocals, which have always been a standout for Balance and Composure, special shout-out to Anthony Green providing some guest vocals on "Keepsake", albeit me not being able to decipher his contributions in the mix until about the third listen of the album. His croons go exceptionally well with Jon on this track and it's nice to see some Doylestown pride going on with the duo (Circa Survive is from the same town). The overall tone and mood of the record continues in typical Balance tradition, with emo and post-hardcore themed lyricism being peppered in amongst the backdrop of distorted yet elegant instrumentation.
From the first lick of "Parachutes" to the somber ending of "Enemy", Balance and Composure have the listener strapped tightly in a destructive train car vehemently moving about the rails, holding on for dear life. This is a dense (we're talking bottom of the lake deep) record, putting this year since Citizen's Youth and TWIABP's Whenever, If Ever into the shallow category by a long shot. Every movement, riff, and lyric sways the emotional tightrope wrapped gently around the feeble listener closer and closer until the closing track's ending lets go completely. It sounds like a very ridiculous analog, just listen to it and you'll understand I promise.
Not only with every record release by Balance, but every show/tour they embark on, they only get better and better musically. I wish I could've seen the writing process for this album because it is truly something magical. From the transitional pieces between tracks and tonal quality of the rhythm section to the very very very subtle use of the word "shame" in nearly every song, The Things We Think We're Missing is leagues above what Separation was. And Separation was easily one of the best releases in 2011. So where does this put their new material? Skyrocketing, of course.
Anyone acknowledging that these Doylestown folk have perhaps calmed down a bit needs to compare Jon's extremely vocal yell in "I Tore You Apart In My Head" to his sweeping, throat clearing roar at the end of "Notice Me" or pretty much the entirety of "Parachutes". The result? No, Balance hasn't missed a single step in their aggressive brand of emo/post-hardcore. The inclusion of "Dirty Head", a fully acoustic track (something we haven't seen since the Acoustic 7"/EP), and "Ella", a fully instrumental track (something we've yet to see from B&C), gives the listener a chance to reflect on the record more closely while also providing even denser tracks to their already impressive catalog.
Before I leave you to indulge in Balance and Composure's newest effort, I leave you with one set of lyrics from the single, "Reflection": You said you’d come when you’re ready/And I’ve been taking my time. Burn all the wreckage and start it all over/We’re building a message, and life with you closer. Exactly right, these boys are building a powerful message in the amalgamated world of pop punk/emo/post-hardcore and if you have yet to join the party, I suggest you do so as soon as possible. This is AOTY material, even amongst the myriad of amazing albums this wonderful year of 2013 has given the musical scene.
Defintely check out: THE WHOLE ALBUM DUH, Back of Your Head, Notice Me, I'm Swimming
Just buy it and listen to it every single day for the rest of your life, you'll thank me later.
Balance and Composure is a 5-piece post-hardcore/alt rock band from Doylestown, PA
Members: Jon Simmons, Andy Slaymaker, Erik Peterson, Matt Warner, and Bailey Van Ellis
Wow, you wasted no time doing this review haha very nice job, excellent record. I'm not completely sold that it's a 10, but it's damn good, possibly the best this year. I love both this and Separation (and old B&C) for different reasons, and this record feels much more refined. The production is interesting, and the songs often find themselves at further extremes of either as heavy as the band has gotten, or softer with much more singing.