Review Summary: Missing something.The Things We Think We're Missing
is an eye-opening album.
It made me look at music I thought I knew well in a new way and appreciate things I'd somehow missed before. The sense of urgency in Jon Simmons' vocals, the satisfying crunch of the guitar riffs, the deft transitions between grungy atmospheres and post-hardcore intensity...Of course, all of these things can only be found on B&C's last album, Separation
To be fair, I wasn't a huge fan of that album on its release. It grew on me, sure, but aside from a few tracks I mostly forgot it. It took The Things We Think We're Missing
to show me what I had missed. And it's a shame, because I really wanted to like Missing
. I want to like this band in general, for its potent blend of emotional vulnerability and diverse songwriting. But this album, in an attempt, presumably, to seem focused, is diluted and bland.
The most immediately noticeable difference is the production. Separation
was raw and gritty, maybe a bit too much so; but here we have a B&C that is vastly overproduced, neutering any emotion that could have otherwise mustered. Not that the production has that much work to do; Simmons sounds oddly tired throughout the album. Even as he throatily rasps his way through the brisk opener "Parachutes," and desperately tries to muster some intensity in the bridge of "Notice Me," he lacks enough punch to convince me. His heart isn't exactly on his sleeve on this effort; nothing carries the despondency or poignancy of "Fu
ck what you told me, it all leads to smoking alone in my room in the end" or any of the pivotal moments from Separation
But part of what made B&C noteworthy was their ability to combine atmosphere and aggression -- obviously, not a strictly unique trick, but one the band pulled off well. Here, however, instead of breaking up intense moments with moody atmosphere (and vice versa), we have sluggish, limp instrumentals (the guitar work is particularly uninspiring) and morose, droning choruses. "Lost Your Name" never reaches the emotional heights it seems to strive for; "Keepsake" simply meanders, devoid of direction.
There are a few times when B&C gets it right, though. Generally speaking, the songs that favor melody over intensity succeed, most notably "Tiny Raindrop." While instrumentally simplistic, Simmons' cries of "I need you on my garments" and the grungy wall of sound behind him are catchy without sacrificing substance. "Reflection" could have easily fit on the last album, thanks to its booming, soaring chorus, and "Back of Your Head" shows off the dynamics that the rest of the album sorely lacks. But overall, Missing
is a frustrating album, as it's an average one that's maybe one or two big decisions short of a great one -- here's to hoping they find whatever it is.