Review: Pianos Become the Teeth – Drift

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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.

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You can buy or stream Drift on Apple Music

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.

3/5

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia 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.

Review: Pianos Become the Teeth – Wait for Love

If you’ve read any of my pieces regarding Baltimore, Maryland, post-hardcore band Pianos Become the Teeth, you’ll know that they’re one of my favorites. It will, therefore, probably be unsurprising when I tell you that I think their latest album, Wait for Love, is a masterpiece.

I found Pianos by chance in 2015 when Keep You was released and fell in love with their sound. The album was released in a year that was super tough for my family and I, so lyrically, the album is close to my heart and remains a comfortable spot to land when I want something familiar. Needless to say, I have been anxiously awaiting their follow up and am thrilled to say that it does not disappoint.

You can buy Wait for Love on iTunes.

Wait for Love starts with “Fake Lightning”, a perfect opener that sets the tone for the record. It kind of encapsulates the entire theme, even stating, “We wait for love / Tradition can’t be kept”. When I heard the second part of the line, I felt like it was almost for us, the listeners, as if to say, “Tradition can’t be kept, so here’s our take on that idea.”

Lead single “Charisma” can be seen as just another love song, and that’s how I first took it (and partly still do), but upon further listening and digging into vocalist Kyle Durfey’s essays (further expounded on below), this song is about the birth of his son, which made it even more beautiful to me. Musically, it’s euphoric, and it displays that joy that only new parents know.

If you follow the band closely, you’ll have at some point received a Twitter notification, an Instagram post, an email, etc. that contained a link. Durfey wrote an essay on each song from the record, and at the end, he writes, “It is not necessary to read this before listening to our record, but in doing so, my hope is that you keep these words in mind whilst you do.”

I read it but tried not to keep it in mind too much at first. Given my emotional connection to Keep You, I wanted to listen to the new album for myself and take what I could from it. Only recently have I really started picking apart the lyrics and matching it up to what Durfey wrote.

Keep You was largely about the death of his father, and “Bitter Red” draws to that topic again. As much as we want the pain of these things to eventually leave us, they never really do. Needless to say, the piece Durfey wrote on his album made me feel a lot. It brings a new perspective to the deeper meanings of these songs. Oftentimes, we as listeners aren’t always in tune to what the artist is trying to convey and just boil down these songs into lyrics and melody. Durfey has reminded us that this is his life.

Even the album title itself is poignant. In each song, the band shows a different facet of waiting. Throughout the album, the band discusses waiting for children to be born, learning to live without the immediate love of someone we’ve lost, and loving ourselves despite our mistakes. It’s about the love others have for us and how difficult it is to see and believe in sometimes. It’s about loving life on the road and experiencing new things in new places. It’s about loving a child we’re waiting to meet but won’t be able to because of a miscarriage. It’s about loving others through the curveballs life throws at us. It’s about loving others when things are going great and when love is new and exciting. It touches on every facet of life and love, which means that it has something to offer for everyone.

Simply put, this album is a work of art. Where Durfey’s vocals weren’t an overt focus on past Pianos releases, they are here. His voice shines and truly becomes an additional instrument. The drums are impeccable and driving, the guitars subtle. These guys are some of the most talented musicians, both recorded and live on stage. They’re completely captivating in every way, shape and form, and Wait for Love is a perfect example of what they’re capable of.

5/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva 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.