|Album Rating: B+|
After trying his hand at pop punk bands and becoming jaded due to the unoriginality of the scene, singer and songwriter Jon Simmons went on to form Balance and Composure, an alternative/indie rock band from Doylestown, PA. Since the band’s inception in 2007, they have released through No Sleep Records two EPs, a split with Tigers Jaw, a full length titled Separation, and most recently an acoustic 7”. The acoustic EP features three songs from Separation that translate seamlessly and only further prove Balance and Composure’s competence and depth as musicians.
The two releases prior to B&C’s LP (Only Boundaries and the Tigers Jaw split) featured lyrically straight, bleeding, and passionate alternative songs akin to a Brand New with more “punch.” These eight songs solidified B&C as one of the better acts among the current insurgence of independent punk artists, as they quickly gained a following and began circulating around Tumblr. Last year, however, the release of Separation took many fans (myself included) by surprise with its fairly drastic change in sound, reminiscent of noisier, droning 90s acts such as Nirvana and Hum. Though the songwriting and instrumentation was top notch, the LP featured a more polished, airy vocal approach on most tracks, detracting from the rawness and that made the band so interesting in the first place. Luckily, the acoustic versions restore much of the band’s realness and offer a different perspective on the sound from Separation.
As a band with three guitarists, B&C are powerful - live, on record, and even acoustically. So, hearing the textural complexity, as demonstrated in the instrumental segments of “Stonehands,” many listeners may gain a newfound appreciation for the band’s intricacy and impressive musical organization. Simmons’ vocals sound as real as ever and the harmonies added by the other band mates only add another dimension to the already thick texture. “Separation,” though one of the weaker tracks on the full length, benefits from the natural acoustic setting, making it hard for the listener to not be enthralled by its winding vocal melodies. Hearing the band excel in such an organic environment makes it hard to deny that the production on Separation stifled the band’s potential, as the acoustic tracks create a much closer connection with the listener.
The precise execution and profundity of the acoustic EP’s tracks are a testament to the band’s hardworking nature. This 7” is not simply a rehashed, uninspired release meant to tempt fans with new pre-order merch-bundle options. The three tracks are as fleshed-out as their full-band counterparts, and indicate that Balance and Composure know very well what they are doing, and what they want to sound like. Those who loved Separation will undoubtedly be pleased with these acoustic renditions, and likewise, the fans who were disappointed in the full length may even acquire a love for the stripped down versions and ultimately venture back to give the original album recordings a second chance.
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