Album Review: Balance and Composure/Tigers Jaw - 'Split'

29 May 2010 | 2:42 am | Staff Writer

The best efforts of both bands, combined to create an amazing release.

Integral to Pennsylvania’s identity are two fundamental factors: Jay-Z and Beyonce’s new farm and the emergence of a unique pop/punk scene creating ripples throughout the oceans of the earth. Amidst the likes of Title Fight, Daylight and The Erection Kids, pioneering this movement is undoubtedly the rising angels that are Balance and Composure and Tigers Jaw, who’s latest split defies the generic boundaries of emo pop/punk to create a baby both beautiful in its cry and soothing in its whispers. Here, each parent has undeniably selected the best of their genes in the production of this child - four tracks from each glued together to piece an 8-track mammoth of a toddler, weighing in at just over thirty minutes. But whilst Tigers Jaw have spawned not only something new but refreshing from their indie roots, Balance and Composure have soared above and beyond to deliver a product best and most appropriately summarised as - ‘the fuckin’ balls.’

Elevating their name from local heroes to super kings, the first half of this 12” is Balance and Composure’s 4-track contribution; characterised by soaring delay-filled guitar melodies and thick harmonies only achieved through their three-guitar collection. From a harmonic perspective - this is Balance and Composure as fans have grown to know them, typified by their drawn-out, climactic build-ups and catchy chord progressions. What separates this from their previous releases is the sheer intensity, and blatantly aggressive nature of each track, embellished by lyrics sung and yelled in a manner more honest and emotional than heard before. It is the pounding momentum of the drums in ‘Kaleidoscope’. The gliding, intimate guitar lines of ‘Rope’. The recurrent breakdown in ‘Burden’, and the unforgiving yet innocent tone of Jonathon Simmons’ words - “Burn, I hope to God you burn.” This sense of maturity and clarity in purpose in their sound is what has grown to define Balance and Composure today, and is most effectively highlighted through their latest split with Tigers Jaw.

At the core of Tigers Jaw is a name transfixed on the mouth of a big cat and a group priding themselves on their championing of a style that is distinctly indie yet peculiarly their own - through the mellow and light colour of sound they have previously established themselves on. Their four-track contribution to this split adheres to this musical approach, however holds a more up-beat feel and sense of forward progression in their music, illustrated through the array of chord progressions and riffs presented in both ‘Dent’ and ‘Lodging’. Whilst not nearly as vigorous and emotional as the sound of their Doylestown counterparts, Tigers Jaw present a small sample that outlines a definite progression in musicality through their incorporation of tunes more catchy and thick in melodic content - as highlighted in ‘Jet Alone’. Their latest release may not be the most-groundbreaking or heart-thumping sounds of this year, but fans of Tigers Jaw will be content in both the new material they have produced and the positive and maturing direction of this band this split outlines.

Let’s face it, doing things yourself get’s boring after a while, and in an unmistakably positive move, both Balance and Composure and Tigers Jaw’s decision to create something together has resulted in one of Pennsylvania’s finest and most refreshing releases to date. Whilst delivering four tracks that demonstrate a maturing sound, all that Tigers Jaw lacks in this split is made up for and exceeded by the honest efforts of Balance and Composure; demonstrating their true potential to be a definitive icon of this style.

1.  Kaleidoscope

2.  Burden

3.  Twenty Four

4.  Burden

5.  Lodging

6.  Jet Alone

7.  Daneilson

8.  Dent

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