Balance And Composure – [12” EP]

Tuesday, 02 March 2010

Ever see or hear a band and know exactly what they're about from the very first time you hear them but remain hypnotized because something about it seems off? It's one of those moments when you know something's not quite the same as everything you've ever heard before, and that's the captivating skew; that little different thing holds you glued to speakers, trying to figure it out. In recent memory, no band better exemplifies that scenario than Balance And Composure; something about everything they do is intrinsically familiar, but different. Take the band's second EP release for example – pressed on twelve-inch vinyl, the four songs that comprise Only Boundaries fit neatly onto one side, leaving a perfect, unmarked black pool on the other [editor's note: apparently 100 were pressed with a silk-screened B-side, five hundred copies were not]. Just looking at it has been both tranquilizing and unusual all at once; somehow almost like going through the looking glass.

Then there's the music contained on the record's A-side. The best way to say it is that there's no mistaking Balance And Composure is a band that came of age during the alternative rock explosion of the Nineties; from the opening tribal build of “I Can't Do This Alone,” BAC exhibits key components of Jane's Addiction, Screaming Trees, Fugazi and the tidal wave of Emo that followed them – particularly Alexisonfire. What does all this amount to? A sort of dark, textural frustration coupled with instantly recognizable instrumental hooks that don't drag listeners along because they're so infectious, they fall in line for it; listeners are only too happy to come along for that kind of ride.

The trend continues through increasingly aggressive tracks like “Only Boundaries” and “Show Your Face” that veer ever-closer to screamo catharsis – a comparison made more obvious too when Andy Slaymaker joins Jon Simmons on the mic to offer a darker hue of anger for contrast. In those first three tracks, listeners can chart Balance And Composure's progress easily as they get more confidence behind them, push harder and get more dramatic. The instrumental breaks in “Show Your Face” give the singers a little more room to breathe in the mixes but, rather than shy away from the attention, both singers step up and deliver inspired performances.

By “What's Wrong With Everything” Balance And Composure's growth curve is complete and the band has well and truly arrived; the hardcore touchings that appeared early in these proceedings have evaporated and listeners are treated to an aggressive, ecstatic moment that freezes time around the four-minute mark to let listeners revel in and explore it – it's fantastic.

It's also funny because, charting the growth expressed on the EP, it becomes apparent that the run-time is proof that history can indeed repeat; it's similar to the curve that Alexisonfire took nine years ago. The results could be looked upon as an act of designer impostor-ism were it not plain to see how the band came to where they are in just four tracks. Will Balance And Composure inadvertently continue to follow in Alexis' footsteps? Only time will tell.



Only Boundaries
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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