Review Summary: Won't you let me in?
It’s only been three years since Balance and Composure released their critically acclaimed split with Tigers Jaw. In the time since then, Jon Simmons and company have released a two song spilt with emo greats Braid, along with releasing a full length debut in 2011, Separation. In terms of musical output, The Things We Think We’re Missing
can hardly be considered a record vying to avoid the oft maligned title of “sophomore slump”. A band that has only been around for four years can rarely be considered veterans of their scene, yet with three significant releases in as many years, it is safe to say Balance and Composure have, in the very least, “found” their sound. A grower of an album if there ever has been, The Things We Think We’re Missing
sees Balance and Composure fully realizing their vast potential, while simultaneously staying true to their roots.
TTWTWM is a record that attempts to ground itself in cohesion; nearly every song flows into the next, creating a sense of belonging to a complete theme. Although this makes for a more arduous first listen, this record, while listened to in its entirety becomes exponentially more rewarding. The songs on this record vary from grunge-tinged post-hardcore to full out acoustic songs (“Dirty Head”), while most of the record finds itself carefully nested in an alt-rock home; It seems as though there were a multitude of influences on this record, ranging from Nirvana to Neutral Milk Hotel. The album starts off with the aggressive “Parachutes”, a song that prepares listeners for what they are in store for, a song that features both harsh and clean vocals from Simmons, both frenetic and melodic instrumentation all while keeping listeners guessing throughout.
While melodies seem to be an obvious omission on first listen, what TTWTWM sacrifices in catchy melodies, it makes up for in atmosphere. As previously mentioned, songs often flow ceaselessly into one another, adding to the aggressively ominous mood throughout. Songs such as lead single “Reflections” or “Notice Me”, display this penchant for aggression, as the later features nearly a full minute of Simmons screaming his heart out nearly unintelligibly over peaceful backing vocals. Although this is not in any sense a novel approach, it is effective in its use on this song, almost making up for the cringe-worthy lyrics presented earlier: “I am a spider in your room. And I got eight eyes, they’re all on you”
Whether it be spacy instrumental passages, such as the entirety of “Ella”, or the full-fledged venom that rears its head on the penultimate track “Keepsake”, Balance and Composure rarely seem to misstep. When they do though, it is usually in such obvious ways that momentum is stifled. Be it the occasional cringe inducing lyric or the conspicuous voice crack at the end of “Parachutes” that “somehow” managed to find its way on this record, many songs are not without fault, as an occasional song is sparsely mired with such hiccups.
An album that cements the legacy of a band that could have gone in many different directions, The Things We Think We’re Missing
is a welcome addition to Balance and Composure’s critically acclaimed catalog. Although it takes longer to appreciate than past offerings, this record may turn out to be the best work these five young men from Doylestown put forth.