Braid / Balance and Composure - Split [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Braid / Balance and Composure

Split [7-inch] (2013)

No Sleep

Braid have been reunited for a few years now, and it's still really great to have them back. Unlike virtually every other seminal ‘90s group that have reformed in recent years, their reunion actually feels more like a reunion and less like a victory lap or a quick payday. They've toured fairly extensively–including a successful run of Frame and Canvas album shows–and have a new album in the works. They've also now released their fifth and sixth post-reunion songs as part of a new split with young guns Balance and Composure.

2011's Closer To Closed EP saw Braid come back using many of the same traits that made them great in the first place: intricate, textured emotional rock that remained catchy and cohesive in the face of fairly intricate musicianship. On this split, however, Braid take a decidedly more direct turn on their two contributions; these songs are louder, filled with power chords and don't feature much in the way of flashy moments, but remain effective just the same. Comparisons to Hey Mercedes are inevitable when it comes to the Bob Nanna-fronted "Lux," as it's dominated by a huge chorus and some of the same loud power chords that made HM rock gods in the underground, but the rhythm section of Todd Bell and Damon Atkinson throw in some brief flashes to keep it firmly on the Braid side of sonic fronts. "Many Enemies," fronted by Chris Broach, is far more melodic and also a little more intricate; it's anchored by some twinkling guitar work in the verses and a few notable time changes.

Balance and Composure broke out with 2011's immense Separation, a heavy, sprawling LP that delivered on the potential the band had established with their Only Boundaries EP and their split LP with Tigers Jaw. Their two songs on this split aren't a huge leap from their past work in terms of style; the guitars are a little grungier and don't hit quite as hard, but the tension remains just as palpable; "You Can't Fix Me" makes its mark with tortured dissonance, faded background vocals and a subdued approach from vocalist Jon Simmons. "Say" is a little more textured, with B&C utilizing their three-guitar attack to create some interesting interplay in the verses that segue nicely into heavier choruses. Simmons' vocals again seem much lower in the mix than on the band's past recordings, but whether it was a stylistic choice or due to budget/time constraints, it works well and caps a decidedly strong split from two very different bands. It's likely that both Braid and Balance and Composure will release new full-lengths in 2013, and if these songs are any indication we're all in for a treat.