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Review by Ethan Rose | September 27, 2013 at 11:00 AM

balance-and-composure-300x300The Things We Think We’re Missing is a record that boasts true confidence from Balance & Composure. Although 2011’s Separation was an instant success, it seemed like the band was testing the waters and searching for an authentic sound to call their own. With this release, there is no more guess and check. Rather, it is a cohesive piece that has been crafted with careful thought and execution.

Thirteen songs may seem a bit ambitious, but there are very few dull moments on this record. If listened to from start to finish, you will steadily move along a journey of angst, urgency, and solitude. Opening with “Parachutes,” the album kicks in assertively. Driving drums and ambient riffs back the throaty shouts of Jon Simmons. The song constantly contrasts between high tension and low drones that feel unsettling, yet contemplative. “Lost Your Name” sustains the album’s driving momentum and sports a catchy hook: “I need a place, need a taste / Need someone so whole and clean / I need a spark, I need your spark / To light this house so dark and deep.”

“Back of your head” showcases Simmon’s cleaner vocal leads. This track has a self-reflective, tortured vibe – haunting screams back a monotone vocal that feels troubling and personal. “Tiny Raindrop” is open and airy with a grooving rhythm section. It exposes more of a melodic side and feels more sentimental and hopeful than some of the other darker tracks.   “Notice Me” acts as a beautiful yet haunting catharsis to the album’s first half. It could easily be a song off of Nirvana’s Nevermind, but features a hardcore twist at the end as Simmons repeats, “Notice me,” as if his life depended on it.

“Ella” is an instrumental that acts as an appropriate segue into the second half of the album. “Cut Me Open” kicks in with full throttle aggression. Toward the end, Simmons sounds as if he is channeling his inner demons and pleading for help as he moans, “God save us men / Cut by a jagged edge.”

“Reflection” and “When I Come Undone” are pretty extraneous tracks. Although very solid, they feature repetitive melodies and recycled instrumentals that make the album start to sound a bit monotonous. “I’m Swimming” is a refreshing track with infectious hooks that keep the second half of the album from completely losing its luster.

“Dirty Head” is the obligatory mournful acoustic track which sounds like it could have been recorded in a small bathroom, inebriated. In this sense, it feels completely dreary, hopeless, and dark. Simmons sounds depleted as his lethargic vocal slowly wails over two lazily strummed acoustic guitar chords. The nice thing about this track is that it distracts the listener enough to make the album’s end sound fresh and revived.

“Keepsake” is a grooving track featuring the subtle, almost inaudible guest vocals of Anthony Green. This allows for a beautiful texture and presence that breathes new life into the album. “Enemy” closes the record on a calm, reflective note, providing a beautiful resolution to an emotional rollercoaster of an album.

With this album, Balance & Composure have found their niche. The Things We Think We’re Missing marks a landmark sound that is true to the band and their intent. Of course, there is always room for growth, and it will be interesting to see how Balance & Composure continue to evolve following this impressive release.

Rating: 4/5

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