Light We Made - Balance & Composure
By Benjamin Irons
Where Separation and The Things We Think We’re Missing presented Balance & Composure at their most unflappable, perennial selves, 2016’s Light We Made manifests the Doylestown, Pennsylvania 5-piece as human after all. While it’s a clear departure from their accustomed post-hardcore, emo sound that we heard in the aforementioned titles, it’s nonetheless a tasteful serving of B&C’s more temperate textures.
“Midnight Zone”, the records leading track, opens with a loop of whirring synths and a computer-programmed voice that harks similarities of OK Computer’s “Fittier Happier”, and it takes little over a minute to absorb the band’s shoegaze-infused chorus that trudges along anaemically. “Afterparty” then models lead singer Jon Simmons’ aching vocals along a rather bleak, but nostalgic, 90’s foundation of the most generic pair of chord progressions and drum patterns, that do little more than get you tapping your toe when they ought to have you off your seat.
No hark back to 90’s is more prominent though than the nu-metal influences behind “For A Walk”; where the nu-metal majority dared to rewire what it meant to be heavy, B&C have seemingly bled out those facets and dried the wounds with a dampened tea towel. “Postcard” and “Loam” both fall into the same category, and though they’re polite but unassuming hints at the bands new found sense of direction, they widen the chasm that separates this record from their last. Too little too late, tracks “Call It Losing Touch” and “Is It So Much To Adore” are the bands efforts to make that chasm more of a hairline crack and return to their alt-rock roots, but its to no avail.
Alternative rock has been planting the seeds of change right the way through to the present day since its emergence. But unlike the glam rock phase of the 70’s, or the punk movement of the 80’s, alternative music has never gotten lost along the way. In fact, it’s done quite the opposite. To call, then, B&C’s latest full length “alternative” would be testimony to the genre’s ever-growing sense of development and exposure; like the 21st Century renaissance of folk. But I am hesitant to categorise Light We Made as such, purely because of the genres apparent nature to be overused as a catch-all description for any variation on rock. But this isn’t a rock record, and it would be optimistic to call it one.