Coming out of the current US post-hardcore scene that seemingly can’t put a foot wrong at the moment, it’d be unfair to lump Balance and Composure together with bands like Touché Amoré, La Dispute, Defeater or Title Fight. Sure, they frequent the same bills with the aforementioned bands, and they’re all friends. Really though, Balance and Composure’s ’90s alt-rock leanings are a completely different beast.
The Things We Think We’re Missing sees lead singer Jon Simmons trying to take a more mature approach. In interviews, he said he wanted to replace the aggression heard in the band’s 2011 debut Separation with beauty and melody. But this is a heavier album than B&C’s first. Perhaps not heavier in the classifiable musical sense, but it’s heavier in tone, in emotion. There is a weight to The Things We Think We’re Missing.
Despite the navigation towards more melodic songwriting, the strongest songs are still the heavier moments. Album opener ‘Parachutes’ is a fist-clenched greeting and the bombastic guitars on ‘Notice Me’ is probably the only time they remotely sound like their (constantly referred to) greatest influence, Nirvana. When B&C delve into their “melodic and beautiful” repertoire, the listener is immediately taken back to their favourite ’90s rock classics. The shades of Placebo, Bush and the stadium riffs of Billy Corgan are unmistakable.
Lyrically, Simmons comes across with sledgehammer subtlety. Well-thumbed themes of loneliness and love lost get retold in the beaten imagery of rain, drowning, breaking, darkness, falling and most other adolescent angst descriptors, but it’s a snug fit against the uber-distorted backdrop of the album.
The Things We Think We’re Missing is a crash course in ’90s rock for a new generation of listeners.
BY RICK WARNER
The Things We Think We’re Missing is out now through No Sleep/Shock.