Braid / Balance and Composure


Written by: DR on 26/06/2013 14:11:19

Emo music originally rose to prominence in the mid 90s with bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas is the Reason and Braid at its forefront, but that scene petered out as those bands called time on their brief careers. In recent years, though, that classic emo sound has undergone a revival, not only with bands like Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), Tigers Jaw and Balance and Composure endearing a new generation of listeners with a fresh slant on an old style, but with some of seminal first-generation bands, including all of the aforementioned, having reunited in some capacity. The first instance of these two generations colliding was always going to be interesting, and here it is: two songs a side from Braid and Balance and Composure.

Fans of Braid would have been glad just to have them back, but their reunion doesn't feel like an exhibition. They released an EP of new material in 2011, have been touring and are currently writing a new record, clearly excited to see where they can take the band this time around. Their songs here, "Lux" and "Many Enemies", show Braid have not missed a beat, and offer insight into the progression of their sound. Combining elements of their past with their more recent work, thus giving fans of old reason to still love then and new listeners an insight into what has made them so special to begin with, they are smoother, even perkier, than the Braid I knew on "Frame and Canvas". However,though the sound is more in line with their most recent EP, "Closer to Closed", the Braid many fell in love with is still in here. "Lux" has an impressively irregularly song-structure, clean and sincere vocals by Nanna and a solid hook, but "Many Enemies" is definitely the stronger of the two songs. It's a shade more aggressive and darker, closer to classic Braid with the twinkling and distorted guitars, and the vocals provided by Broach are more revealing and ultimately cathartic in its emotive semi-crescendo.

Balance and Composure's side is not over-shadowed by Braid's, and there's even a case for it being the better half of the record. "Say" is solid despite it not really being anything we've yet to hear from them before, but "You Can't Fix Me" is undoubtedly the best song here and one of the band's best to date. It's a surprisingly restrained and emotionally introspective offering, focusing more on the subtlety of Simmons' vocals and his song-writing than it is outwardly cathartic. The instrumentation is impressively layered, and the three-pronged guitar work excellently guides the track through a rise/fall structure before swelling to a conclusion of "How'd I ever know that the secret is just waking up? / How'd I ever know that it'd sleep until I wake it up?", the most captivating moment of the release.

Ultimately, this split represents an interesting dichotomy between the past and future of emo music. Braid, the genre veterans, prove they are back and that they sound reinvigorated, while Balance and Composure prove why they are one of the most promising bands in the scene. This is not a release that fans of the genre, past or present, should miss out on as it offers a glimpse into what has made the genre so special to two different generations of music fans, and why it will continue to be so.


Download: Many Enemies, You Can't Fix Me
For The Fans of: Braid, Balance and Composure, emo music
Listen: Braid's Facebook, Balance and Composure's Facebook

Release Date 26.02.2013
No Sleep Records

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