REVIEW: Balance and Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing

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Artist: Balance and Composure
Album: The Things We Think We’re Missing
Release date: September 10, 2013

The Things We Think We’re Missing is the sophomore LP by Doylestown, Pennsylvania band Balance and Composure. This is a highly anticipated release coming off the success and praise they got off of their debut LP Separation and big tours with bands such as La Dispute, Title Fight and Sainthood Reps.
The album starts off with the aggressive “Parachutes.” Right away, you can tell that Balance and Composure has only gotten better at what they do and doing it as a unit. The chorus of this song is unbelievable. In no time you’ll catch yourself yelling along as Jon screams, “I found you inside of a dream spinning in circles magically.”

“Parachutes” ends in a wall of guitars ringing out and feeding back and flows seamlessly into the next track, “Lost Your Name.” This song keeps the pace and aggression up and shows off many sides of Jon’s voice.

The next song, “Back Of Your Head” starts out by showing a softer side of the band, but it gets heavy again very quickly. The dynamics on this track do a great job of communicating the track. There are quite a bit of layered vocals on this song where you’ll hear a track of Jon screaming over another track of him singing cleanly along with harmonies. Layered vocals are no stranger to Balance and Composure or producer Will Yip and they pull it off well here.

If you are a production and/or drum nerd, you will love “Tiny Raindrop.” The drums start this song off over a few long distorted guitar melodies and they sound massive and heavy. According to singer Jon Simmons, “Tiny Raindrop” is a “vision of being with someone you are infatuated with but eventually letting them down.” It’s about how he knows he will be the first to ruin things. The album also takes its title The Things We Think We’re Missing from a line in this song. This is one of my favorites.

“Notice Me” brings the tempo and fury back. The whole song is incredible, but it is the ending that really sticks out. The last thirty seconds showcase the heaviest vocals I’ve ever heard from singer Jon Simmons. They’re just amazing. The song ends with him harshly screaming, “Notice me! Notice me!” His singing, even more so during this part, is so fucking sincere.

Right in the middle of the album there is a short instrumental named “Ella.” This is a nice addition for vinyl listeners because it’s short break at the end of the first side of the record.

The second half of the record starts with “Cut Me Open” which starts off relatively soft and eases you into the rest of the song. The drumming in particular on this song is fantastic. The ending of this song has some tribal sounding beats and Middle Eastern styled melodies which make it very interesting.

The next song is “Reflection” which was the first single released from the album. This song is more midtempo and Jon’s singing is a lot cleaner on this song than many of the other songs giving the album a nice contrast.

“I’m Swimming” continues the midtempo sound of “Reflection.” The guitar during the chorus is very thick, heavy and driving and really pulls the song along. This song has some very quotable lyrics such as, “I’m swimming in the very midst of you; you should try it too.”

“I’m Swimming” fades out into the next track “When I Come Undone” that starts off with Jon singing “Screaming your lungs out and they put on a great show. Peel out in your car, drive anywhere with me, don’t drop me off,” over some toned downed drums and sparse guitars. The song picks up a bit in the choruses, but keeps the same slower and toned down feel throughout the entire song.

The eleventh track, “Dirty Head,” is completely different from anything Balance and Composure has released in the past. This song is extremely dark and stripped down and features a single acoustic guitar and a very emotional vocal performance from Jon. Some lyrics are, “It’s time to show you where I stand. I am but a sorry man. Let’s see how far we can go. ‘Knew I had to let you know.” This song is one of my personal favorites on the album.

Next is “Keepsake” which features Anthony Green of Circa Survive on vocals. The addition of Green will no doubt make this a fan favorite. This song’s placement on the album is great because it come after a wave of calmer, midtempo songs and “Keepsake” brings a lot of the tempo and aggression back in.

The Things We Think We’re Missing closes out with the incredible, “Enemy.” In my opinion, it is the perfect song to end the album with. It starts off with just guitar and vocals and then at around the 35 second mark a guitar starts to feedback and then the whole band comes in at once very strongly and it crushes you in a wave of guitar and drums. A little over halfway through, there is a kind of lengthy instrumental break that reminds of something from Separation. After about a minute, the drums and vocals come in with Jon singing, “Enemy, enemy, you’re my only enemy…”

This is one of my favorite releases this year. The Things We Think We Think We’re Missing is an album that is meant to be listened to loudly and often. The more you listen to this album over, the more you will get it. It is definitely not an album that you will get tired of after a few listens or forget about in a year; it has serious lasting value.

Two albums I was instantly reminded of were The Pink Album by Sunny Day Real Estate and The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me by Brand New. The guitar sounds throughout are very reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate and this album gave me a lot of the same feelings I got when listening to The Devil and God the first time. Overall, this is a very solid album and a serious contender for album of the year.

For fans of: Brand New, Circa Survive, Sunny Day Real Estate, Citizen, The American Scene, Title Fight, O’Brother.

Songs to checkout: “Parachutes”, “Tiny Raindrop”, “Notice Me”, “I’m Swimming”, “Dirty Head”, “Keepsake”, “Enemy”

Review by Nathan Cornell

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