The Setup: Some version of the following conversation happens every year around December:
PostLibyan: End of year lists, people! End of year lists!!
Malimus: Um...yeah. Here’s a list!
: You didn’t review any of these for us.
: No. No I did not. They’re great!
: You should review them then.
: Yes. Yes I should. SQUIRREL!
In an attempt to avoid this fate in 2013, I’ve created a new process by which I hit shuffle on my iPhone every morning and then write up quick notes as to why that song exists in my heavy rotation playlists this year. This is meant to prompt me to write more reviews for Brendan. I suspect it will work for approximately three days before SQUIRREL!
The song in quesiton here is Quake, off of 2011's album Separation, by Balance & Composure. Added to my library in spring of 2013.
I have a soft spot for pop punk. Always have, going all the way back to Face to Face and Green Day. Give me a semi-melodic frontman wailing about how the world done him wrong and I'm usually in like Flynn. This isn't always the case, of course. But for the most part, yeah. It's a thing, and a band roughly in that zone is something I'll tend to give a try.
That being said, there was a decade or so where I avoided pop punk like the plague. The very, very earnest boys of screamo that dominated a certain spectrum of the public airwaves in the early 2000s drove me away for a full on decade. And truth be told, I still can't listen to Fall Out Boy or Yellowcard or the like. It's just too...needy. But the odd thing is, I share a lot of tastes with the fan bases for those bands. And that's why I have this album on my iPhone.
As the doldrums of winter were giving way to spring, I found myself in a familiar place: trolling the web for new music. The exiting of winter, for me, usually means I begin to file away the metal and sludgecore that sustains me through December and January and start seeking out something a little more upbeat and singable. One of my regular landing places for that sort of thing is Absolute Punk. I go into that site realizing that I'm a good 25 years older than their primary target market, but I find that it's a good clearinghouse for the punk and power pop genres.
It was a link off of AP that sent me to a previously unheard of blog/site called Property Of Zack and a post called "Albums That Deserve 'Classic' Status In 2020." Now, I suspect this Zack person and I would disagree on some of the old classics - he prominently name dropped the aforementioned Fall Out Boy, for example. But as I spun through his list it was apparent that there was at least some overlap. His "new classics" included three albums from 2011-12 that I absolutely loved (The Menzingers: On The Impossible Past; Fun.: Some Nights; and The Front Bottoms: The Front Bottoms). So, on a lark, I decided to pull down a few of the other "classics" he listed as well. And that's how I ended up with this Balance & Composure album in my 2013 mix.
All things told, this isn't a bad album. It trades in more or less standard tropes of the emo/screamo sub-genre. There's a lot of soft-loud, sing-scream exchanges going on, backed up by a passable if unexceptional rhythm section. The lead singer has a voice quite reminiscent of Tom DeLonge from Blink-182, but the material is far more "heartbroken recent college grads desperately wants her back" than "I'm making jokes about my penis in a sock!" So they have that over DeLonge and outfit at least. I don't think I can get behind the idea that this represents a "classic" come 2020, but then again, I didn't graduate high school listening to this thing either. I suspect Zack wouldn't agree with my high opinion of Faster Pussycat. We can agree to disagree on the final rankings.
While Separation is far from a lock to be in my heavy rotation playlist this time next year, it's still a quality example of the not-quite-hardcore guitar punk sound. There are quite a few times when a song from this album spins up via random play and I look down to see who and what it is, in case I want to return to it later. That's a pretty good sign from me.
Final Judgment: Not quite a classic, but it's still in the rotation.