Balance And Composure
The Things We Think We’re Missing
09 September 2013
When the term “stadium rock” is applied to something, it’s predominately in a pejorative sense. It’s a euphemism for blandness, palatability, fit for mass consumption. But stadium rock isn’t always M.O.R. triviality; Brand New headlined Wembley Arena in 2010, and sounded right at home in such a setting. The instant intimacy of the headliners filled the vast venue that night, and proved emotive post-hardcore could still bare its soul in such a characterless environment. With Brand New currently AWOL, a successor is required to take back “stadium rock” from synonymity with banality, and Balance And Composure may just be that band.
Balance And Composure’s 2011 debut Separation was a remarkable record, one that admittedly wasn’t the first to take the sincerity of emo and infuse it with the density of grunge, but certainly presented a unique take on the style. The Things We Think We’re Missing is more of a consolidatory effort than an exploratory one, but it also espouses Balance And Composure’s true strength, which is to sound monolithic. Aided by producer Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive, Blacklisted), the songs sound even bigger than ever before, while retaining the elements that put them on everybody’s lips in the first place. It’s less raucous than before, but the cinematic atmospherics created on this record, coupled with Jonathon Simmons’ unique, earnest vocals, means it would sound just as fantastic in a dingy dive bar as it would in the “McDonalds Aircraft Hangar”, or some-such arena.
Just as a sporting team is only as strong as its weakest member, albums can be judged in a similar sentiment, but fallibility is simply nowhere to be found here. Don’t mistake this for implying monotony as it is certainly not lacking in highlights; the combination of ‘Lost Your Name’ and ‘Back Of Your Head’ is formidable to say the least and ‘Notice Me’ is a phenomenal song, most of the last minute showcasing Simmons at his most cathartic. The initial gambit of the album exhorts a robust driving force, but latter content shows B&C nous for a keen, sonorous melody, especially in songs like ‘Reflection’ and ‘I’m Swimming’, another double-header sequence that exhibits the facets of this full-length. As if that were not enough, on penultimate number ‘Keepsake’, a song which ruminates on a messy break-up, the quintet are embellished with the graceful tones of Circa Survive’s Anthony Green, and the union yields wonderful results.
While not a perfect album – it’s a little lengthy at points, and ends on rather abrupt terms with ‘Enemy’ – The Things We Think We’re Missing builds an irrepressible momentum, fluidly maintaining the intensity. Longer-term fans may be disappointed to discover its stripped-back nature rather than large creative leaps, but this record more than fulfills the heady expectations set by Separation. It evolves their sound and style to a higher plane, one that their contemporaries will attempt to rehash, but will rarely make sound quite as effortless as this. Those enormodomes won’t know what hit ‘em.
Sounds Like: Snow Patrol for people that like neckbeards and plaid
Standout Tracks: Lost Your Name, Back Of Your Head, Notice Me