“We realized we all almost died and thought maybe we should chill on the touring thing for a bit,” says Van Ellis, who formed the band nearly a decade ago with singer/guitarist Jon Simmons, guitarists Erik Peterson and Andy Slaymaker, and bassist Matt Warner. “It was definitely an eye opening experience, and it had an effect on the time we took with this record.”
Perspective wasn’t the only thing that changed for Balance and Composure during the three years between albums, though. When the house the Doylestown, PA natives had long used for writing and rehearsing was sold, they were forced to relocate to nearby Tullytown, on the banks of the Delaware River. There, they adapted to the unfamiliar surroundings while creating and sifting through roughly 100 new song ideas, gradually distilling the best of them down into the ten tracks that would become ‘Light We Made.’
“It was kind of a dark place,” explains Van Ellis of their new rehearsal space.“There’s nothing happening there. We practiced in an area where there’s a lot of mechanics and warehouses, and we were subletting our room from a local metal band. I think the change of scenery had everyone in a different headspace.”
That new headspace is apparent from the very first moments of album opener ‘Midnight Zone,’ which showcases not only the bands grander songwriting ambitions, but also their newfound studio sophistication. Rhythmic, electronic elements and mysterious backwards voices underpin Simmons’ crystalline vocals on the track, creating a rich and evocative soundscape that’s all at once unsettling and beautiful. On first released single “Postcard,” the band loops electronic percussion, pulling sonic and structural influence from hip hop and R&B recordings, while “For A Walk” blends warped synthesizers with distorted lead vocals.
Produced by Will Yip (Nothing, Pity Sex), ‘Light We Made’ marks a milestone for the band. The LP’s coherent mood of transcendent moments are driven by the band experimenting with new sonic elements – weaving in dreamy synth chords, melodic guitar riffs, and atmospheric bass grooves and drum beats to hit home the delivery of the songs’ emotional lyrics.
A close listen of the album offers unexpected twists and turns around every corner. On “Spinning,” Simmons hypnotically repeats the title phrase, “The light we made / Into your eyes,” like a mantra, weaving the cryptic message in and out of the song. “Call It Losing Touch” inverts traditional the rock and roll structure with high-energy verses and a mellow, meditative chorus, and album closer “Loam” forgoes a euphoric climax in favour of pulling back for a dark, uneasy, introspective ending.
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