Balance and Composure
Light We Made
(Vagrant Records)

Despite what the drum machine beat on the album’s lead single, “Postcard”, may lead people to believe, Light We Made is not a huge changing of gears for the boys in Pennsylvania’s Balance and Composure. The truth is that this album depicts very much the same band, just with much lighter strokes. “Postcard”, “For A Walk,” and “Loam” all feature pretty obviously programmed drums, which for many will be the hardest stylistic change to swallow, though they actually work pretty well with the group’s just-dirty-enough guitars and Jon Simmons’ subdued vocals. The rest of Light We Made has most of the hallmarks of a Balance and Composure album – moody vocals, a strong emphasis on musical and vocal melody, and the use of cutting guitar lines to create a large atmosphere.

The real change comes in the pacing and overall feel of this album, which follows the progression of the band very logically. Separation struck a balance (sorry) between a reserved, brooding atmosphere and something more immediate. The Things We Think We’re Missing toned down the aggression just a tad, and focused a bit more on building a large sonic space. On Light We Made, it becomes evident that the band has mellowed out over the past few years as they expand on this idea of making songs that are larger in scope – Balance swapped out the distorted guitar breaks and post-hardcore grit for a laid-back attention to melody and instrumental experimentation. For the most part, this altered approach worked out pretty well. The first three tracks “Midnight Zone,” “Spinning,” and “Afterparty” are a killer start to the album and a crash course in what these guys sound like here in 2016. They’re followed up by “For A Walk,” which comes completely from left field. Though lyrically not the strongest track on the album, it features a groovy bass line and some crazy submarine-sonar-like tones that make for a fun listen. “Mediocre Love” is a great track with a driving drum beat that centers the song rather than becoming tiresome, followed by another tight grouping of songs — “Call It Losing Touch”, “Fame”, and “Is It So Much To Adore,” the first two of which could easily have been some of the softer tracks on any of the band’s previous albums. The closer “Loam” has a strong vocal melody, and features the reverbed-out, gritty guitars that make a classic Balance track, but the drum track is louder than it should be and makes the song feel like it belongs on the soundtrack of a dystopian sci-fi movie.

Still, the mellowness of this collection of songs blends well with Balance’s trademark melancholy, and the quieter approach makes for a nice change of pace.

Purchase Light We Made here.


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