7inch Sunday: Braid and Balance & Composure Split

7inch Sunday is a segment devoted entirely to 7” vinyl and the all-encompassing experience surrounding it. Although most publications cover major releases, the vinyl single is often overlooked and given nothing more than a half-hearted nod of acknowledgement. This weekly feature is a hub for 7” reviews, exploring the B-sides and rarities of artists that may often go unnoticed.

Each Sunday I will review 7” vinyl from artists who venture this extra mile to hold their singles high above the sea of digital releases. I hope to embody the spirit of vinyl while sharing some fantastic music with you, the reader. Let’s get started.

Split singles are often as much a gift as they are a curse. The intrigue of hearing two groups juxtaposed on the same vinyl is overshadowed with the worry of neither act getting the proper amount of deserved attention. Luckily for Braid and Balance & Composure – who managed to get two tracks on each side of their forthcoming split – this was not the case. Braid, a Polyvinyl act and Illinois post-hardcore staple since the early 90s, and Balance & Composure, a younger act with an astronomical rise and paralleled success, have joined forces to bring us a tour de pop punk that works for all the right reasons.

To accommodate all involved, the split was released in six different colors and varieties for each respective band and label. Ranging from ‘Coke Bottle Clear’ to ‘Dark Maroon Red,’ the palette of options was cut short only by their highly-limited status. I got a hold of the white retail exclusive, which had the largest amount of pressings at 1,000. Fun colors aside, the cover of the record is a tiling of photographs ranging from notable architecture to personal riverside shots. The names of both artists are proudly displayed in a bold red and comprise the majority of the forefront, an affirmation that is deservedly so.

The A-side features two tracks from Braid, “Lux” and “Many Enemies.” With neither breaching the three-minute mark, the tracks concisely present a band that successfully reinstated themselves in the post-hardcore annals with a fresh sound and relevant approach that does not feel like a 90s entrapment. The instrumentation is a tight, well-oiled machine and feels polished to the point of no discernible flaws. Lead vocals are spot-on, gang vocals are perfectly mixed into the background and even the miscellaneous guitar wailing is warranted.

Balance & Composure control the B-side of the single with a more collected wind-down to complement Braid’s previous pop party. “You Can’t Fix Me” takes intricate guitar licks and harmonies and combines them with a fragile, melancholy story. The end result is a slow-building track that climaxes into a driving rock riff teeming with emotion and substance. Likewise, “Say” packs a similar punch with a dreamlike pace, retaining both the group’s notable harmonies and sultry storytelling. Just like their namesake, Balance & Composure have their sound and attitude safely secured.

Check back next week for a look at the Sinistarr/Calculon & Austin Speed split.

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