Pianos Become the Teeth
Throughout their history as a band Pianos Become the Teeth have been commonly regarded as part of the new wave of post-hardcore/scream bands, along with other bands such as La Dispute and Touche Amore. As Ian Cohen at Pitchfork, these bands are “too studied and serious for punk, not melodic enough for pop-punk, not soft enough for emo, not prog enough to be metalcore.” I could always enjoyed the songwriting and the instrumentation of these bands, but I could simply not overcome the vocals and lyrics that I found to be whiny, over-dramatic, and blunt. I assumed I simply wasn’t meant to like this music; I was likely past the target age demographic at that point after all.
Piano’s previous album The Lack Long After was the most interesting and digestible to me. Post-rock riffs over blast beats are an interesting combination, along with his wailing. This album dealt with the sudden loss of the frontman Kyle Durfey’s Father. While a sad circumstance for sure, I found the lyricism to be somewhat sophomoric.
Keep You, the latest release by Pianos deals with the moving-on stage of coping. The music became tamer and more precise while Durfey abandoned his patented screaming for more controlled singing. The more dynamic singing range can sort of reflect the vaster array of emotions Durfey is dealing with at this point.
In the intro track, Ripple Water Shine, Durfey is reminiscent of childhood memories with his father on a boat while tying the flowing water into a metaphor about life moving on.
I took the boat out on the lake,
and I was okay,
need to get that feeling back,
once in a lifetime,
ripple water shine,
the wind and the paddle drip,
the moving on life,
it was, and it’s been a long time,
it was, but now it’s not mine,
life moving on
Throughout the album Durfey often sounds like he is barely maintaining his composure. There are a few instances, namely on the last track, where it seems like the classic screaming may come back, but rather than explode into the more comfortable chaos, the music and singing shrink away. In the album closer, the vocals climax before leading to a 3 minute instrumental finish. When I first heard this part, I froze. There were only guitar, bass, and drums repeating a pretty simple riff but it packs a lot of emotion and it helps to tie the album together. I generally enjoyed the album the first time that I listened to it, but with the context of the album’s finish, I needed to listen again.
It is with that same mindset that I was able to really dive into the band’s earlier works. Knowing how the band’s music has progressed has given me an all new appreciation for all of their work. Just as every step of coping is necessary after dealing with the death of a loved one, each album has its role in getting Pianos to Keep You, their most daring and emotional album yet.