It’s odd to see two very similar albums released on the same day. Both Moving Mountains’ self-titled release and Balance and Composure’s The Things We Think We’re Missing dropped today. Both could be considered post-rock albums, with Moving Mountains opting for a slicker, more mainstream sound, as compared to Things’ roughness and aggression. In fact, Things sounds like it could have been recorded by a younger, more restless Moving Mountains.

So who comes out on top in this match-up? I’m going to give the trophy to Balance and Composure.

The Things We Think We’re Missing is a more subdued, nuanced affair than its predecessor, Separation. On their debut album, Balance and Composure sounded like it was still trying to figure out its sound, often driving too hard or pulling back too far. Things is far more polished and restrained. Lead singer Jon Simmons doesn’t scream his way through this album. The guitars don’t crack and squeal. Instead, they’re laid heavily over each other, thick with delay, creating an ethereal soundscape.

But Things is still propulsive, and that’s what sets it apart from Moving Mountains. It still crackles with energy. The drums pound. The bass is fat and fuzzy. Simmons sings like he fucking cares. He’s not even singing great lyrics, but they’re serviceable, they complement the music, and they’re sung with conviction.

While Things is propulsive, it can also be gorgeous. The tracks that the band put out in advance of the album’s release, “Tiny Raindrop”, “Reflection”, and “Keepsake” demonstrate this perfectly. They’re less angry than the album’s most explosive tracks, and Simmons holds back on them, letting them be carried by the intertwining guitars. In particular, guest singer Anthony Green’s barely-audible background vocals on “Keepsake” lend the song a kind of delicateness and fragility that you don’t normally hear from a band this aggressive.

Things does have a few missteps, like the screaming at the end of “Notice Me” or the plodding acoustic number “Dirty Head.” But overall, it’s such a well-crafted, complete experience that it totally overshadows its predecessor, Separation, as well as its contemporaries (*cough* Moving Mountains *cough*). I’m expecting even greater things from this band in the future.

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