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With their debut LP ‘Separation‘ back in 2011, Pennsylvanian act Balance and Composure deservedly earned their place as one of the key names in contemporary emo/punk circles. Skip ahead a couple years to new album ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing‘ and the band have stepped it up another notch, delivering a follow-up that is both confident and intensely visceral, sonically tight, while sincere and vulnerable.
Right from the word go, there’s a clear maturity present. While ‘Separation‘ sounded like a band still taking steps to become comfortable in their own skin, ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing‘ is a proud portrait of the quintet having happily found their feet. An improved chemistry of the band as a working unit are obvious – the product of around six years of honing their dynamics together. What’s more, each member sounds more confident in their given field. Vocalist Jonathon Simmons is able to navigate intensity and fragility with grace – with composure, even – backed up by the vivid, melancholic and highly textural backdrop the rest of the band craft.
However, the most instantly recognisable change to be found on ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing‘ is a newfound sense of immediacy. Where ‘Separation‘ could tend to slow down and lose energy, songs such as opener ‘Parachutes’, ‘Tiny Raindrop’ and ‘When I Come Undone’ firmly maintain the emotional punch the band are synonymous with, while keeping the pace up and providing some of the catchiest choruses in recent memory.
Finally, although ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing‘ sounds uniquely Balance and Composure, the band are more open to delving into the influences on the album. While obvious comparisons can be made with the likes of Jawbox and Farside, tracks like ‘Cut Me Open’ and ‘Enemy’ powerfully recall the alt-rock/grunge leanings of Incubus and ‘Machina‘-era Smashing Pumpkins. It’s refreshing to hear this inspiration in a way that acknowledges it but refuses to be a carbon copy.
With ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing’, Balance and Composure go from strength to strength, creating an engaging, cathartic and overall extremely impressive sophomore album. The 13 tracks on the album flow into one another with a sense of purpose, and building the overall emotional impact. Both hard-hitting and enigmatic, it’s a captivating first listen, with each following increasingly rewarding.
2. Lost Your Name
3. Back of Your Head
4. Tiny Raindrop
5. Notice Me
7. Cut Me Open
9. I’m Swimming
10. When I Come Undone
11. Dirty Head