Key tracks: “Back of Your Head,” “Notice Me”
On a first listen, Balance and Composure might seem like an average, borderline hardcore band. But they ride a nice, uh, balance between hardcore and fourth wave emo, without incorporating too much of either. It’s a balance that takes the best parts of each genre and mixes them into one. It has the intensity of hardcore, without the repetitive ferocity. It has the lyrics and melodies of fourth wave emo, without the wallowing sadness. This album isn’t overly memorable in the long run, but it makes for a refreshing listen.
The band really excels early on in the album. “Back Of Your Head” and “Notice Me” are two of the stand out tracks, showing the band’s energy. Some bands struggle to capture a song’s energy in the studio, but songs like these can make you sweat. For the most part, the album is energetic, taking advantage of it’s distorted, fuzzy sound to make a loud creation. “Dirty Head” is a stand out too, though, as the album’s acoustic piece. Ballads on albums like “The Things…” are usually throwaways, but Balance and Composure have written a simple, affecting piece. Strictly musically, the album embraces it’s blending of different genres.
The irony of the album, though, is that because it embraces it’s unique sound so hard, it starts to get repetitive. No other band sounds like Balance and Composure but Balance and Composure, and at points they really sound like it. The album’s sound goes on a little too long, and because it sounds so similar for so long, it makes it a less memorable listen. “Dirty Head” is a nice reprieve, but it doesn’t do enough to break up the album at all. Varying song lengths also try, to some success, but by the end of the album, it feels just a little too exhausting.
Still, the good outweighs the bad here. This is a good album from a unique band, one that asks to be praised more as an idea than a collection of songs, and it deserves it. Energetic without being upbeat, heavy without being hardcore, and honest without being too sad, it’s constantly riding the right side of a tough fine line. It might get a little watered down in it’s own ideas, but it’s a welcome relief for fans of emo and hardcore who are getting a little too tired of similar bands.
If you like this, try: Defeater’s “Letters Home,” a recent release by a proper hardcore band, one of the best working today.
-By Andrew McNally