I put a lot of trust into bands I consider to be core artists for me. I’ve done a lot of preordering of albums this year, just believing that the albums will arrive at my doorstep on release day and sweep me off my feet. Drift by Pianos Become the Teeth didn’t really do that for me this time.
Pianos has been one of my favorite post-hardcore outfits for a while now, since their release of Keep You in 2015, a truly seminal album for me. In 2018, they released my year-end favorite with Wait for Love. I guess I liked the idea of a band that kept evolving; but now I’m wondering if they’ve evolved too much – maybe even regressed a bit? Drift doesn’t lack emotion, but I feel it lacks substance.
The album starts off with “Out of Sight” a haunting, almost a capella track that sets the tone well. When I first tossed the disc in after peeling the plastic away and put my car in drive, I thought I would be in for Wait for Love part two, where we keep walking with Kyle Durfey and the guys as they move forward with their family life, and I was sad to see that maybe things haven’t gone as planned.
What shocks me most about this album is the bare bones writing. Lines are repetitive where they were once lush and full of artistry. The track “Easy” ends with “This is all there is”, and that’s a good way to describe the writing style here. Minimal. The band do make up for it with some of the musical choices, a very blurry, dreamy landscape of sound, but when you’re used to a full combination platter from a band, it’s hard to not see things missing.
My favorite track here is “The Days”. It feels like a Wait for Love B-side, with a little bit of a darker undertone. Lines like “But I’m writing down everything you say for my dementia days” are the gut punch, visceral lyrics I’ve come to appreciate from the guys, and this is an album where those moments are few and far between.
The album is cohesive; I’ll give it that. And I feel like this is an album that taking a break from will cause me to return with fresh eyes and see what they were going for. They have leaned heavily into the shoegaze genre here, surpassing the post-hardcore sound completely. They used an Echoplex in production, which does lend that watery, easy feeling. The production is as good as it always is on their projects, and that is a redemptive quality for me.
I’m not against a band that wants to do something different on each of their albums. I think it can be a good exercise in creativity and keeping things fresh and exciting as both an artist and a fan. When I listen to Drift though, I get that they’ve definitely changed, but it doesn’t feel like it’s for the better. As they repeatedly say in “Mouth”, “We are not who we used to be”. I wish they could go back.
by Nadia Alves
Nadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.