Review: Balance And Composure

The Things We Think We’re Missing
September 19, 2013

The Things We Think We’re Missing is the loud and angst-ridden second album from Pennsylvanian alternative rock outfit Balance and Composure. It’s a genre piece, steeped in the history of a subtype of music that fell by the wayside long ago. Essentially, Balance and Composure are a throwback band trying to make their way in a brave new world.

Instrumentation is simple and unassuming, yet at times technically complex. I’m Swimming is straight out of Omar and Cedric’s Guide to Making Music, with chiming, caustic guitar lines leading into a strangely harmonic vocal lead, before disintegrating into whirl of slashed percussion, backing vocals and the ever-present hard rock scream.

Parachutes is a fine song, a whirl of ADD guitar rolling into a guttural scream, distortion effect. Lead singer Jon Simmons meditates on his dreams and thoughts but, as the first song on the album, sets the bar low in terms of what you can expect from the lyrics which unfortunately have a tendency to straddle the line between unimaginatively generic and wilfully unmemorable.

On the surface, it could be the songbook of any emo-leaning album from the last decade, rife with vague complaints about society veiled in personal putdowns and coupled with esoteric statements about humanity which, at the end of the day, mean very little. That’s not to say the lyrics are bad, per se, just… out-dated.

Despite the moments of articulateness there’s a feeling that, in 2013, Balance and Composure should just know better: do people really want to listen to albums built around the basest expressions of adolescent anger, jealousy, rage, self-pity and self-hatred?

All in all, this is an album of short takes, and though there are times it’s hard to find something to sink your teeth into, you could do worse than consuming it two or three tracks at a time. Sonically, there’s a bit of every good alternative rock album from the 1990s here: from early Nirvana and Soundgarden through the Smashing Pumpkins, to At The Drive-In, to the Foo Fighters and even – dare I say it? – some heavier Radiohead.

That’s all admissible, though, because The Things… is first and foremost a genre piece. This is definitely one for fans of the genre, and Balance and Composure have no pretensions about offering something new or original.