Release Date: Oct 7, 2016
Record label: Vagrant
Balance and Composure's first two albums were embraced by fans for their nuanced yet terrifically loud brand of emo-minded grunge-rock, a simultaneously pulverizing yet fragile state they nearly perfected on 2013's The Things We Think We're Missing. But instead of building on that momentum, the Pennsylvania group have opted instead to pull back the throttle. It's a vastly different experience than past albums, and one that may take up to a dozen listens to sink in.Returning as producer is Will Yip, who has also overseen bands like Title Fight and Turnover as they similarly manoeuvred from guitar-heavy indie-punk to some variation of spacey alt-rock.
Balance and Composure made a dance record. Not even kidding. They've scrubbed out the anger and rage from their signature post-hardcore/grunge style to make Light We Made something that's more spacey, moody and shoegaze. Sure, there's a lot of melody and rhythm involved in the mix but part of the magic they made on records like Separation and The Things We Think We're Missing was steeped in their raw musical aggression.
Dreamy. Balance And Composure’s third album is less a collection of songs than a constant, ice-cold shiver down the back of your neck.Eschewing their hard-edged, rockier side, the Pennsylvania five-piece have cultivated 40-plus minutes of intense but dreamy atmosphere on ‘Light We Made’.Moody, sinister and understated, the likes of ‘Spinning’, ‘For A Walk’ and the insistent ‘Call It Losing Touch’ feel like drowning and floating all at once; the lush and ethereal instrumentation punctuated by the occasional panicked jolt of guitar or drums.For best listening, simply close your eyes and let it wash over you. .
Balance and Composure’s sophomore album The Things We Think We’re Missing could end up being the quintessential document of the new vanguard of old school alt-rock. In the context of its release year, 2013, this kind of aggressive guitar music actually felt like an alternative to something, and it still does. Its fanbase was too young to be embraced as “indie” (read: college) rock, and it lacked the obvious hit single or image necessary to break satellite radio.
Review Summary: A forgotten dreamNightmares aside, there are really only two kinds of dreams: there’s the kind where you vividly remember the details the next morning, and there are those instances where you know you dreamt something, but can’t remember for the life of you what it was. If Light We Made was a dream, it would be an indistinct, forgotten fantasy by the time your eyes adjusted to the dawn’s sunlight. In an attempt to create a more hazy, ethereal listening experience, Balance and Composure’s third effort falls victim to complete boredom.
Balance and Composure have changed a bit. Although, being from a scene that has always embraced change of this sort makes it seem a little different, almost expected. Post-hardcore peers like Title Fight and Citizen have already ripped this path. One question remains: is Balance and Composure’s new album, Light We Made, a slick and successful movement toward a fresh sound, or is it an awkward stumble? Before Light We Made, Balance and Composure put out two albums of basically the same music.
Three years after 2013’s The Things We Think We’re Missing, Balance And Composure have returned with an unbridled yet mature record that sets out to explore new boundaries of self-expression. For their major-label debut on Vagrant Records/BMG, Light We Made offers a sense of direction for a band that has traditionally appeared as an alternative to its own alternative scene. Too grungy to mesh with their pop-punk compatriots on No Sleep Records, and still polarizing enough to remain outside the broader indie-rock realm, Light We Made reveals a new sense of agency via Jon Simmons’ confident new vocal technique and experimentation with stronger electronic elements.