Pennsylvania ambient and alternative rockers Balance & Composure found brief success with their sophomore record ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing’ back in 2013, as their fuzzy and moody sound excelled with the layered song structures that came with it. Skip three years, and the band caught the eyes of Vagrant Records in the States, and have now returned with ‘Light We Made’: a polished and cleaner version of their previous self that drifts and drifts, but never finds itself.
Although there are influences of Radiohead and The Cure being thrown around like nobody’s business on ‘Light We Made’, it’s the Basement-esque ‘Afterparty’ that brings a hypnotic swing to proceedings. Balance & Composure have a very one-dimensional tempo on the record, which works to their advantage as it creates a brainwashing consistency throughout.
Of course, the flipside to this means songs are hardly distinguishable, and when there’s something that stands out it isn’t usually for the best of reasons. ‘For A Walk’ sounds like an alien abduction soundtrack at times and there’s far too much background talking on a whole bunch of tracks, so much so that it makes you question whether it’s actually there or if you’re just going crazy.
When the choruses are good then it’s a far more intriguing listen. ‘Is It So Much To Adore?’ and ‘Fame’ have sing-a-long qualities on repeat listens, but it’s not the interest that Balance & Composure have demanded on previous outings. The record isn’t bad, in fact if you’re a fan of monotonous shoegaze then this will probably blow your mind, but it doesn’t do enough to excite on many levels, and, although you’ll be tapping your foot along to the sometimes mesmerising melodies, you won’t be able to remember what they sounded like straight after each song finishes.
‘Light We Made’ is highly recommended to put in your headphones after a shattering day at work, close your eyes and fall asleep to – but whether that’s a compliment or not is anyone’s guess.
Written by Mike Heath (@MikeBeef)