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Balance and Composure - Separation Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.5
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 7.5
Production 5
Creativity 7.5
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 7.75
Final Verdict: 76%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 9.63
Lyrics 9.5
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.38
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Average: 95%
Inside AP.net

Balance and Composure - Separation

Reviewed by: DJWildefire (07/27/11)
Balance and Composure - Separation
Record Label: No Sleep Records
Release Date: May 10, 2011


Fans of Balance and Composure have been eagerly awaiting a full length release for quite some time now. After releasing two mature EPs and arguably the better side of a split with Tigers Jaw over the last three years, Balance and Composure finally appeased fans with news of Separation, comprised of twelve tracks.

Upon first listen, however, it's quite possible avid followers of Balance and Composure will be disappointed. Moving towards a more streamlined sound definitely contributed to a loss of "oomph" and raw emotion from the band's music. However, this more concentrated approach does give Separation a sense of cohesiveness and focus, attributes vital to a successful album.

Separation excels most on songs where Balance and Composure's 90's influences are the most apparent. "Stonehands" delivers in this aspect, showcasing both emo and grunge influences, though vocalist Jon Simmons tends to sing a bit nasally especially on words with "long e" vowels. A better culmination of 90's style and Simmons' vocal performance is the title track. On the chorus, Simmons utilizes his perfected "sing scream", a gritty yell, but with definitive pitch. It's a technique Jesse Lacey of Brand New and Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra also use, though Simmons' style feels more passionate.

As a whole, though, Separation seems like more of a turn towards typical alternative rock. While Balance and Composure do perform this genre with ease and more than competently (take the southern rock vibe of "Galena" or grit and angst of "I Tore You Apart In My Head" for instance), at times the record leans toward typicality, most notably on "Void", an unfortunate pick for an album opener.

The loss of emotional immediacy might be due in part to the album's generally flat production. Producer Brian McTernan's past work has been inconsistent, dipping especially on Emarosa's latest self-titled release. While Separation is definitely an improvement for McTernan, the drums sound tinny and lack tone and it's nearly impossible to tell the band has three guitarists. The production just doesn't feel as dynamic or raw as a band like Balance and Composure, one who thrives on straddling the crossroads of technicality and passion, needs to fully excel.

However, after multiple listens, Balance and Composure's passion permeates McTernan's iffy producing job. Tracks like album standout "Patience" exude intense feeling in the music. Balance and Composure mean every lyric, every guitar strum, every bass line, and every snare hit. Though perhaps Separation only fully demonstrates this with the listener's patience (yes, I went there), the album isn't a regression from past work. Balance and Composure is still miles ahead of most other bands operating in their genre. The reason?

Authenticity.

Track Listing1. Void
2. Separation
3. Quake
4. Stonehands
5. I Tore You Apart In My Head
6. Galena
7. Fade
8. Progress, Progress
9. More To Me
10. Echo
11. Patience
12. Defeat the Low

Recommended If You LikeThe idea of a Brand New/Manchester Orchestra/American Football/Transit/Nirvana orgy lovechild
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 16.
09:06 PM on 08/04/11
#2
DJWildefire
On the verge of breathtaking
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06:16 PM on 08/05/11
#3
Dre Okorley
HC Punk Afficionado / @dreokorley
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Pretty nice review. I might check this out.
08:16 PM on 08/05/11
#4
brandon_260
Ah, yes.
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One of the most incredible albums released this year. Don't really agree with this review though.
09:13 PM on 08/05/11
#5
DJWildefire
On the verge of breathtaking
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One of the most incredible albums released this year. Don't really agree with this review though.
What don't you agree with?
09:45 PM on 08/05/11
#6
brandon_260
Ah, yes.
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What don't you agree with?
Mostly the production stuff. Still a well written review though.
10:21 PM on 08/05/11
#7
DJWildefire
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Mostly the production stuff. Still a well written review though.
Oh yeah, that seems to be the most polarizing thing about this album. Some people love the production, some really dislike it. I know that when Thomas reviewed it, he thought the production was just fine, but I've also heard people complain about the production. Thanks for the feedback and kind words!
10:31 PM on 08/05/11
#8
brandon_260
Ah, yes.
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Oh yeah, that seems to be the most polarizing thing about this album. Some people love the production, some really dislike it. I know that when Thomas reviewed it, he thought the production was just fine, but I've also heard people complain about the production. Thanks for the feedback and kind words!
No problem! I just think the production works well with their actual live sound.
09:41 AM on 08/06/11
#9
Truman122
Gandhi On Ice
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Very honest stuff. I'm glad this album was reviewed fairly rather than just blindly praised.
08:30 AM on 08/09/11
tottivillarossi
rockfreaks.net
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I think this is an excellent album. Imagine how good it could have been with better production, though. I agree with everything you say regarding that.
04:15 PM on 08/30/11
Bobby Markos
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"Void" is great, 90s resurgence.
07:16 AM on 09/05/11
jpd19125
Screw Flanders
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this album is fucking incredible
05:01 AM on 09/21/11
SalKelsoWoah
imnotsalanymore
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This album is simply amazing. There is no need to say anything else.
02:31 PM on 10/01/11
yeamusic21
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this band is going places, they should be playing warp tour or something, awesome band!
06:57 PM on 03/06/13
SeanMichaelC
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I need to hear this.
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