The sophomore album from Pennsylvania’s Balance and Composure, “The Things We Think We’re Missing” is hauntingly beautiful. Overlooking some strange lyrical decisions, this LP is cathartic, emotional, raw, powerful, and a million other descriptors that make me want to listen again.
Each song is laced together with a desperate yearning, pummeled into the listeners’ ears with powerful drums and catchy guitars. Rhythmically, the album sounds stronger and like a logical progression from their earlier works; Long term fans will not be disappointed. And with this release, lovers of 90’s alternative/grunge will quickly become new fans. Nirvana is an obvious reference for most of the album.
Opening guitars on “Parachutes” are really interesting and ear-catching. Even paired with visceral and screamed lyrics, the unique work is easy to spot in the entire song. Late in the album, “Reflection” is easily my favorite song. Something about it sounds immediately familiar and well loved. To an almost waltz-like rhythm, Balance and Composure croon “You said ‘come when you’re ready’ and I’ve been taking my time” The lyrics continue, in waves that roll in over and over again. “Burn all the wreckage and start it all over.” It’s yearning, without being sappy or sweet.
That being said, some lyrics sound a bit clunky or unfinished. The above excerpt, for example, ends with “we’re building our message: life with you closer” which sounds unfinished and sub-par. Life with me closer to what?
Despite the weakness of some of the lyrics, the album is overall a strong one with many memorable tracks. Acoustic song “Dirty Head” sounds like the part of the film where someone is drunk, face down in a gutter. The chorus of simple wails over a lonely guitar feels like a gut-punch. Its slow, somber tone is a welcomed breather in an otherwise significantly more energetic and upbeat album. At just over 2 minutes, the track is long enough to be heart wrenching but quick enough to avoid becoming overdrawn. In comparison, the following song “Keepsake” kicks in with power and meaning, aided by guest vocals from Anthony Green (Circa Survive).
“Cut me open” is another gem on the album. Three and a half minutes in, the beat changes and begs the listener to clap above their head. It’s a song meant to be played live. Wailed lyrics become almost a religious chant over the cymbals. When the song cuts out at just over five and a half minutes, I’m not quite ready for it to end.
If you are a fan of moody and dark albums that end with a sudden burst of happiness, this is not going to work for you. Closer “Enemy” winds off into silence with a repeating mantra of “You always let it rain” over the same swaying melodies that control the entire album.
“The Things We Think We’re Missing” is out September 10th. Go get it.