Review Summary: 2013 continues to impress.
Neither Braid nor Balance and Composure are bands that need some sort of flowery or hyperbolic introduction. Braid, as you likely know, is a band that helped pioneer the 90’s emo movement until their breakup in 1999. Upon their sudden 2011 reunion longtime fans exuberantly received a four track EP and subsequent promises of more material to surface in the near future. Balance and Composure is a band, while only having one full length release, who are quickly climbing to the top of the post-hardcore/emo mountain. Their 2011 split with Tigers Jaw only further solidified their right to at least be heirs to that emblematic throne, along with seeing the young band realizing their immense potential. So with a split EP with two bands that have accomplished more in their careers than most can claim, it is almost absurd to believe that this split would be anything less than excellent. At the very least a pairing of Braid and Balance and Composure would produce an enjoyable and fun
four tracks. Although 2013 has nearly surpassed 2012 with quality releases, the Braid/Balance and Composure Split should not be lost amid the wash of quality releases.
The album itself starts off with the two Braid tracks,Lux
and Many Enemies
. Each track is in vein of the sound present on their ominously titled reunion EP Closer to Closed, as the songs sound more mature and polished while never losing the edginess that Braid was known for throughout their career. Although there is an absence of ‘twinkly’ guitar lines found in the emo scene that is currently enjoying a nation-wide revival, Braid proves that they still have what it takes to be leaders of their genre. With Lux being a Bob Nanna fronted track and Many Enemies seeing Chris Broach take the reins, this split epitomizes the best that Braid has to offer. Lux starts off the split right with infectious hooks and a unique structure. The second track is more akin to earlier Braid as the lyrics fall back to past tendencies, as Chris wails We are alive all our lives, we are alive. Too many enemies here in front of me, someone who used to be a friend
. The song abruptly ends, and with it so does Braid’s 2013 outing. With only five minutes and twenty-nine seconds of new material, Braids side of the split will manage to hold fans over until Braid has released their fourth LP.
But the obvious highlight of this split is Balance and Composure, as their two tracks outshine and quite frankly, outperform the two previous tracks. Although this split only offers two Balance and Composure songs and each track is less than four minutes, these Doylestown Pennsylvania natives manage to remind listeners why they feel in love with them with their 2009 debut Separation.You Can’t Fix Me
is perhaps one of the best songs Balance and Composure have ever recorded and is the obvious standout track of the entire split. Starting off with effect-ridden guitars and a pulsating drum line, the song only continues to build and build until the song (and entire record) comes to a zenith with swirling guitars and drums coupled with perfectly implemented rough vocals. The rough vocals are used sparingly through the two tracks, a technique that pays off, as they are more come off as more powerful when actually used. Say
serves as an adequate ‘album closer’, even if the lyrics toe the line of nonsensical at times. And as the final notes of Say ring out the split is over, almost as soon as it has begun.
2013 is a year ripe with releases already, and this split is a welcome addition to an already impressive list of albums. Although there are only four tracks, both bands are able to progress their sounds, if ever so slightly, while also managing to solidify themselves at the top of their respective genres. While both bands are long overdue for a proper album, we must be able to rejoice in the fact that each band has released two sublime tracks to tide us over until their much-anticipated full length releases.
How’d I ever know that the secret is just waking up? How’d I ever know that it’d sleep until I wake up?